Gonzaga at San Diego (West Coast)Jenny Craig Pavilion - San Diego, CA11:00 PM EST
For tonight's G!O!T!N!, we go all the way out west for an ESPN2 matchup between two teams separated by a half-game (and Saint Mary's) in the West Coast Conference. We could have easily chosen URI-Xavier
(hott) or New Jersey Tech's try for 0-28
(coldd), but when you have two conference one-loss teams, you have to preempt regularly scheduled programming.
Yes, San Diego (15-11, 8-1) is playing remarkably well lately, especially since the Kentucky win
on Jan. 29 that put the Toreros on the national scene. There was a bit of an emotional letdown after that that pulled them right off the radar -- losses to Marshall and Cal State Bakersfield -- but they've been fantastic in league play. The biggest reason for that is the emergence of 6-0 junior Brandon Johnson
(16.9 ppg, 3.4 apg) as a serious offensive force. In past years, he was always the guy who would take a lot of shots he shouldn't have -- witness his combined 7-for-34 shooting in the 2006-07 Gonzaga series -- and who'd shoot his way into deeper slumps trying to shoot his way out of them. This year's different. With the confidence of his new head coach Bill Grier (who'd spent a decade and a half in Zagland), the offense belongs to him. The January WCC Player of the Month
went 10-for-19 for 26 points in the first meeting, a 80-70 loss
up in Spokane.
We don't talk too much about the G-Men (20-6, 9-1), mostly out of respect for their label-transcending accomplishments... but there are a few ways to beat them. They do foul a bit more than the average team does, but the Toreros aren't the kind of free-throw shooting team (61.6 percent in league games) that could take advantage of that. Best case scenario: a big night from Johnson, a riled-up and raucous home crowd, and second-leading scorer and leading rebounder Gyno Pomare
(14.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) more involved than in the first meeting, and hope that Gonzaga bites itself at the line late. And USD does have some history beating Gonzaga in the Slim Gym, like that 72-63 title game win in 2003 that forced a two-bid WCC. Can you expect to see clips from that game during tonight's broadcast? Yes, yes!GONZ 59, USD 55