Sat, 16 Jan 2021

No. 1 Gonzaga aims for record home streak vs. BYU

Field Level Media
17 Jan 2020, 18:55 GMT+10

Records and streaks come and go and this season Gonzaga is doing its part to keep those who keep track of these sort of things very busy.

The No. 1-ranked team in the nation has won 35 straight West Coast Conference road games, the longest streak by any Division I team over the last 30 seasons.With their 104-54 victory over Santa Clara on Thursday, the Bulldogs now have won 33 straight at home, the longest current streak in the nation.

Gonzaga's 32 straight regular-season conference wins also is the longest in the country and ties Pepperdine (1991-93) as the longest in WCC history.

On Saturday, Gonzaga (19-1, 5-0 WCC) plays host to BYU with a chance to break that record.

"When we play together and when we play great defense, which helps a lot, I think we're pretty unstoppable offensively," Joel Ayayi, who had 19 points, six rebounds and three steals against Santa Clara, told The Spokesman-Review after the win.

BYU (14-5, 3-1) also had its way on Thursday, defeating San Diego 93-70 despite not having the services of leading scorer and rebounder Yoeli Childs. Childs has been sidelined with an injury to his index finger and is expected to miss another week.

Without Childs' 20.9 points and 10.1 rebounds a game, the Cougars face an uphill battle against the Bulldogs.

Kolby Lee stepped up in Childs' absence and scored a career-high 21 points, going a perfect 8-for-8 from the field. TJ Haws added 19 and Jake Toolson chipped in with 14 points.

"It's fun to watch these guys grow," BYU head coach Mark Pope said after the game. "Kolby was great to watch tonight because he's growing before our eyes. I'm proud of all the guys. It was a great team effort."

Pope made sure the Cougars weren't looking ahead to playing Gonzaga, reminding his players of an embarrassing loss to San Diego that ended BYU's season in the WCC tournament last March.

"They're super dangerous," Pope said before the San Diego game. "They're really big. Their front line is big and physical. They crash the offensive glass pretty hard."

If the Toreros' big men had Pope worried, imagine how much he has to prepare for Filip Petrusev, Corey Kispert, Killian Tillie and Drew Timme.

The Gonzaga quartet combined for 58 points and 25 rebounds against Santa Clara. Ayayi led the Zags with 19 points and fellow guard Admon Gilder came off the bench and added 18.

Mark Few's troops are clicking on all cylinders. The Zags are the only team in the nation to have six players averaging double-digit scoring per game. And a seventh player scores 9.5 points per game.

Gonzaga's defense and rebounding often get overlooked because of its prolific offense. Both were on display Thursday as Santa Clara was held to 30.4 percent from the field. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Broncos, 53-35.

"We jumped out and played with great tenacity for almost a full 40 minutes," Few said. "We played with a lot of spirit, we were physical and protected the rim probably as good as we've protected the rim all year."

The Bulldogs haven't faced much adversity this season, but on Thursday, Few announced that freshman Anton Watson would need shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the season.

"Anton is one of the toughest guys I've coached. He's battled through a lot, because he cares about this team," Few said. "This is the right thing to do moving forward for his career, and he has a bright future with our program."

--Field Level Media

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