All They Can Handle

Moraga,Ca - Saint Mary's leading scorer Patrick Mills has been a handful for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs, though, may not have to worry about the star sophomore for the rest of the season.

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Coming off a tough non-conference loss, the 19th-ranked Bulldogs look to take advantage of Mills' absence and hand the Gaels their first loss at McKeon Pavilion this season as the West Coast Conference rivals meet Thursday night.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook have made the Gonzaga -4 point spread favorites for Wednesday’s game against the St Mary's. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 74% of more than 194 bets for this game have been placed on the Gonzaga -4.

Gonzaga (17-5, 8-0), playing in a lightly regarded league, was dominated in a 68-50 loss to then-No. 14 Memphis on Saturday night in its last chance to impress the NCAA selection committee in a major non-conference matchup.

The Bulldogs return to conference play after having a nine-game winning streak snapped, but matchups with Saint Mary's (19-4, 6-3) are never a cakewalk. The Gaels, however, have dropped two of three after losing Mills (fractured right hand) in a 69-62 loss to the Zags on Jan. 29.

Saint Mary's had won a school-record 15 straight games - the nation's top winning streak at the time - and was ranked 22nd entering that contest, but will now have to make do without Mills at least until the WCC tournament.

Mills, who is second in the conference in scoring at 18.7 points per game, has been at his best versus the Bulldogs, averaging 20.3 points in three contests. Against Gonzaga in January, Mills had 18 points in 17 minutes before getting hurt.

He helped Saint Mary's continue its home success against the Bulldogs with 23 points in an 89-85 overtime win on Feb. 4, 2008. Mills scored the final 10 points of regulation and five more in OT.

It was Saint Mary's third win in its last four home matchups with Gonzaga. The Gaels are 9-0 at home this season, outscoring opponents by an average of 22.1 points, and have won 25 of their last 26 there.

However, with Mills out and the Bulldogs eager to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat, Saint Mary's will have a tough time continuing its success at McKeon Pavilion.

Gonzaga was down by 26 points early in the second half versus Memphis, was held to a season low in scoring and shot 36.7 percent while committing 15 turnovers.

"Obviously they are quite a bit more athletic than us," Zags coach Mark Few said.

The Bulldogs came in averaging 79.0 points, but their top scorers were held in check.

Josh Heytvelt, who leads the Zags with 14.2 points a contest, had 11 and most came after the game was out of reach.

Jeremy Pargo, the reigning WCC player of the year, had two points and four assists, and turned the ball over five times. The senior guard managed only 11 points and three assists while committing three turnovers in the Bulldogs' first matchup with the Gaels this season.

Bulldogs guard Matt Bouldin led the Zags with 17 points in that contest, while Diamon Simpson had 17 points for Saint Mary's.

Simpson had 11 points - his lowest total in four games - in a 70-52 loss to Santa Clara on Saturday night as Saint Mary's was held to a season low in points.

The senior forward, though, edged closer to a milestone. He's seven rebounds shy of becoming the first player in school history to reach 1,000 points and 1,000 boards.

Simpson is averaging 21.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in his last two games against the Bulldogs.

The Zags lead the series 46-23.

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Posted: 2/12/09 2:32AM ET

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