Bettors Backing #18 Gonzaga Big Time Over Washington State
The 18th-ranked Bulldogs (8-1) continue their tough December schedule Tuesday night when they visit Washington State (7-1).
Gonzaga entered the season unranked for the first time since 2001 after losing Morrison, the star forward who averaged 28.1 points per game last season and now plays for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bulldogs, who also lost J.P. Batista, didn’t stay out of the poll long. They entered the Top 25 at No. 22 after beating then-No. 2 North Carolina 82-74 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 22, and rose to No. 18 in this week’s rankings.
Gonzaga, whose only loss came Nov. 24 against Butler, has a chance to attract even more attention this month. The Bulldogs kicked off their brutal December with Saturday’s 87-77 victory over Texas in the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge in Phoenix. They’ll also play No. 13 Washington in Spokane, Georgia in Athens, No. 7 Duke at MSG and No. 20 Nevada in Seattle before the New Year.
They open January with a game at Virginia.
Gonzaga got the tough stretch started on the right foot against the Longhorns, as Derek Raivio scored 27 points and made seven 3-pointers, falling two shy of the school record of nine achieved twice by Dan Dickau.
Raivio, who leads the Bulldogs with 19.8 points per game, said that this season’s team is able to spread the scoring around.
“We’re moving the ball a lot better, we’re just having fun,” he said. “When we’ve got three or four guards out there playing together, it’s a lot of fun. No one’s really dominating the ball too much. We share it, and we have fun.”
Josh Heytvelt is averaging 16.8 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds, and had 13 points and 12 boards against the Longhorns. Jeremy Pargo, averaging 10.8 points per contest, had 18.
“I thought for stretches of that game, both in the first half and the second half, we played some of the best basketball we’ve played this year,” said coach Mark Few, who has called his team’s December schedule “the toughest month we’ve ever had.”
Washington State fell 69-55 to Utah on Saturday, ending its season-opening seven-game win streak. Robbie Cowgill scored 16 points for the Cougars, who started 7-0 for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
Washington State was outrebounded 27-22 and gave up 12 points more than its season average coming in.
“We didn’t come out and play defensively the way we need to if we are going to be successful,” coach Tony Bennett said.
The Cougars have dropped the last seven meetings with the Bulldogs, including a 67-53 loss in Spokane on Dec. 8. Washington State’s last win in the series came in 1997.
by: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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