San Francisco-Gonzaga Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- If Kelly Olynyk and his Gonzaga teammates play as well as they did in their most recent contest, the Bulldogs should have little trouble continuing their home dominance over San Francisco.
Looking to remain undefeated in the West Coast Conference, the No. 10 Bulldogs try for a 24th consecutive home victory over the Dons on Saturday.
The 7-foot Olynyk made all nine of his field-goal attempts and went 8 of 8 from the free-throw line to finish with 26 points in Gonzaga's 83-63 home win over BYU on Thursday. The result helped the Bulldogs (18-2, 5-0) rebound from a last-second 64-63 loss at ninth-ranked Butler last weekend, and further solidified Olynyk as one of the nation's best big men.
A junior who redshirted in 2011-12 after inconsistent play his first two seasons, Olynyk averages a team-leading 18.5 points and ranks among the national leaders with a 67.4 field-goal percentage. He also recorded nine rebounds and a career-high five assists against the Cougars.
"If I can get the ball in the center of the zone, it's hard for a defense," he said. "The guards were feeding me and we made great plays (Thursday)."
Olynyk has averaged 25.0 points while shooting 70.3 percent (45 of 64) and 8.4 rebounds in the last five games. His least productive effort during that span came last Saturday when Butler held him to 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
His performance Thursday, coupled with 25 points and 10 boards from Elias Harris, helped the Bulldogs shoot 56.9 percent and overcome a season-high 19 turnovers. Gonzaga held BYU to 35.6 percent shooting while Bulldogs guard Gary Bell Jr. limited WCC scoring leader Tyler Haws (20.6 points per game) to one point on 0-of-9 shooting.
"I was ecstatic with how we flew around, and for the most part we kept it up all night," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, whose team has allowed WCC opponents to shoot a league-low 41.4 percent while enjoying its best conference start since going 6-0 in 2009-10.
That likely does not bode well for San Francisco (9-11, 2-5), which has won three straight at home in the series but is mired in a 23-game skid at Spokane, Wash., that dates to a 60-52 victory Feb. 10, 1989. It is the sixth-longest active winning streak for one school at home over another in Division I.
Harris, who scored 21 and pulled down 11 rebounds in last season's 66-65 loss at San Francisco, has averaged 16.3 points in seven games against the Dons.
San Francisco junior Cole Dickerson has totaled 14 points in four games versus Gonzaga, but averages a team-leading 14.9 and hit a 3-pointer with one second left in Thursday's 75-72 win at Portland. UCLA transfer De'End Parker scored 16 and Dickerson finished with 15 as the Dons shot 53.2 percent while overcoming an 11-point deficit to win their second straight following a five-game slide.
Though San Francisco ranks near the bottom of the WCC allowing 73.1 points per game and 44.9 percent shooting in conference play, coach Rex Walters is happy with his team's recent effort.
"I think we can play better, especially defensively," he said. "But Iove our heart and how hard we play."
Updated January 25, 2013