No. 1 Gonzaga taking nothing for granted vs. Pepperdine

·3 min read

Top-ranked Gonzaga looks to defeat Pepperdine for the 41st consecutive time when it visits the Waves on Saturday night in West Coast Conference play at Malibu, Calif.

The Bulldogs recorded a 95-70 home win over Pepperdine on Jan. 14 to continue their dominance in the series. The Waves last beat the Zags on Jan. 18, 2002, when they notched an 88-79 home victory.

Gonzaga (16-0, 7-0 WCC) doesn't look in jeopardy of seeing its streak end in this meeting. The Bulldogs are fresh off a 90-62 road win over San Diego that marked their 10th win by 20 or more points this season, including nine of their past 12.

Pepperdine (7-7, 3-2) has won three of its past four games, including a home-and-home split with BYU. But the Waves also have an ugly 79-51 home loss to Cal State Bakersfield on the ledger.

Despite the easy win in the first meeting, Gonzaga coach Mark Few is fearful of Pepperdine's two stars: Colbey Ross and Kessler Edwards.

Ross needs just six points on Saturday to become the first player in school history to reach 2,000 career points. He also ranks sixth in WCC history with 750 career assists and needs eight to pass fifth-place Christopher Anderson (2011-15) of San Diego.

Ross is averaging 16.5 points and a team-leading 7.4 assists.

Edwards has team-leading averages of 18.3 points and 6.6 rebounds. He scored a career-best 37 points in an 85-68 home win over Pacific on Jan. 21.

He averaged 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in the two games with BYU. Edwards had 11 points and 10 rebounds in a 65-54 road loss on Jan. 23 and posted 18 points and six boards in Pepperdine's 76-73 home win on Wednesday.

Edwards said an unselfish approach was a prime factor for why the Waves outscored BYU by eight on Wednesday in the second half.

"Sharing the ball is one of the key things," Edwards said afterward. "The (previous) game we had trouble hitting shots. We never let that discourage us. We know they will fall as the game goes on."

Gonzaga knows its shots will fall as it leads the nation in field-goal percentage (55.0) and scoring (94.1).

The Bulldogs connected on 57.6 percent of their shots against San Diego while recording their 20th straight win dating back to last season.

Drew Timme led the way with 21 points and seven rebounds and has tallied 20 or more in four of the past five games. His 18.7 scoring average is second behind Corey Kispert's 20.5 mark.

"We've just got to do a better job internally. There's nothing that any team does to us that we can't handle," Timme said afterward. "Coming into the environment, especially like this, like every environment, there's no energy, no fans, you've got to create it on your own. We've got to do a better job of coming out ready from the jump."

Few said playing in empty arenas is catching up to his team as February approaches.

"Sorry, there's just no juice in any of these places; our place, their place," Few said. "We're talking about it, the guys know it, they're trying, but at the end of the day these are not festive environments of college basketball right now. We're all just having to figure that thing out. I think by and large this group has done a good job of that, primarily because they like each other."

Kispert scored 23 points and Timme added 20 in the first meeting against the Waves. Edwards scored 14 for Pepperdine but Ross had just nine on 2-of-10 shooting.

--Field Level Media