SPOKANE, Wash. -- Gonzaga, long recognized as one of the kings of the mid-majors, is drawing consideration as one of the best teams in all of college basketball this season.
Maybe even THE best.
"We're up there," Gonzaga guard Gary Bell Jr. said after the sixth-ranked Bulldogs pounded Loyola Marymount 74-55 Saturday night.
Senior guard Mike Hart said, "We can compete with anyone in the country on a given night."
Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Pangos both scored 20 points in Gonzaga's sixth straight win. Elias Harris added 16 points and 10 rebounds to help offset the 30-point effort of Loyola Marymount's Anthony Ireland.
Ireland, a junior point guard, tied the career high he set Nov. 22 against Oral Roberts. Ireland received warm applause when he left the game with a minute to go, and part of the sellout crowd of 6,000 gave him a standing ovation.
"That was such a good feeling," Ireland said.
Lions coach Max Good said, "I was really pleased with the fact that the fans recognized Anthony. You don't see that much."
Of course, virtually no one ever sees an opposing player score 30 points at Gonzaga's McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0 West Coast Conference) are 117-8 since moving into the arena in 2004-05.
Loyola Marymount's 23-game losing streak at Gonzaga extends to the days of Gonzaga's Martin Centre. The last-place Lions (8-16, 1-10) fought hard Saturday but were overwhelmed inside in their eighth straight loss by the physical and talented duo of Olynyk and Harris.
"We've had enough of them," Good said with a smile.
Good and Ireland were uncommonly gracious losers after the Lions' eighth straight loss.
"They're a well-oiled machine out there," Ireland said. "They have a great offense -- so many threats out there. They're super well-coached.
"They know how to play the right way. Their basketball IQ is very high. They destroy teams on both ends of the court."
Good embraced Gonzaga coach Mark Few at the end of the blowout.
"I told Mark after the game how much I respect what they do," Good said. "They have a good coaching staff, and they're good people."
Ireland, as good as he was, could not overcome Gonzaga's deadly inside-outside combo of Pangos on the perimeter and Olynyk and Harris inside. Not that Ireland didn't try.
"He's a really good player," Bell said. "Hard to stop."
Good said, "He's an old-school basketball player. He's not throwing up fingers when he makes a shot, or banging his chest. He just plays the game ... he's a tough little guy."
Unfortunately for the Lions, the 5-foot-10 Ireland could do little to offset Gonzaga's 43-29 rebounding advantage. Also, LMU shot just 29.8 percent from the field. Ireland hit 8 of 20 shots and his teammates - none of whom scored more than eight points -- were just 9 of 37.
Ireland ranked second in the WCC and 16th in NCAA Division I coming into Saturday's games at 19.8 points per game. Olynyk, who was eighth in field-goal shooting percentage, sank 7 of 8 from the field and all six of his free throws.
Harris made just 3 of 9 shots but was 10 for 14 at the line. Pangos went 7 of 11, including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers. He also had six rebounds and four assists, but he did have four of Gonzaga's 11 turnovers in the first half, when the Bulldogs were a bit sloppy on occasion.
NOTES: Thursday's win over Pepperdine pushed Few ahead of North Carolina's Roy Williams for the highest winning percentage among active NCAA Division I men's basketball coaches with at least five years of experience. Few bumped his winning percentage to .7982 (364-92). Williams slipped to second at .7979 (691-175). ... Few has won at least 23 games and advanced to the NCAA tournament in all 13 full seasons as a head coach - all at Gonzaga. He was a high school assistant coach for two years before becoming a graduate assistant at Gonzaga in 1990-91. Few replaced good friend Dan Monson (now at Long Beach State) as head coach in 1999-2000. ... Senior guard Mike Hart returned to Gonzaga's starting lineup after Memphis transfer Drew Barham made his first start against Pepperdine. ... Good praised the strong first-half performance of guard Adam Drexler. The walk-on is the son of former NBA star Clyde Drexler.