Spokane, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The ninth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs attempt to stay unbeaten on the season in their return home to the McCarthey Athletic Center on Tuesday night when they take on the Southeastern Louisiana Lions in non-conference action.
SE Louisiana got the season off to a sluggish start with four straight losses but since has turned things around with wins in two of its last three, both during the Tulane Tournament last week. The Lions most recently downed Langston in the event finale on Sunday, 92-80.
Gonzaga took part in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden last week and captured victories over Georgia (88-76) and St. John's (73-66) en route to the championship. The Bulldogs are a perfect 6-0 on the season and have won 29 straight games at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the programs.
The Lions used a 10-0 run at the end of the first half of their most recent game to carry a double-digit lead into intermission over Langston and they held on to that advantage for the entire second half. They shot 52.5 percent from the field in the fast-paced game and scored 23 points off of 15 Langston turnovers. Pacing five teammates in double figures was Joshua Fillmore with 25 points, doing so on 8-of-11 from the field and 7-of-7 at the foul line. Daniel Grieves and Andrew Guillory netted 16 points apiece, and Onochie Ochie and Zay Jackson scored 13 and 12, respectively, in bench roles.
It was a rare showing for SE Louisiana, which has struggled offensively this season by shooting only 41.5 percent from the field for 66.6 ppg. Its scoring defense (74.0 ppg) has also been lackluster. Jackson leads the team in scoring with 15.7 ppg and chips in elsewhere too with 4.9 rpg and 4.0 apg. Fillmore (12.7 ppg), Guillory (10.3 ppg) and DeVonte Upson (10.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg) have also been solid.
The Bulldogs built a lead as large as 15 midway through the second half over St. John's in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game and held on for the seven-point win to keep their undefeated season alive. Although their 3-point showing was less than ideal (4-of-14), they still knocked down nearly 53 percent of their field goal tries overall while holding St. John's to just 36.7 percent shooting. Domantas Sabonis drained all six of his field goal attempts for 14 points to go with nine rebounds. Kevin Pangos tallied 11 points and nine assists, while Gary Bell Jr. (13 points), Byron Wesley (12) and Przemek Karnowski (10) rounded out the balanced effort.
Few teams have been better offensively that Gonzaga, which ranks third in the nation in field goal percentage (.548) and tied for fifth in points per game (90.0). Meanwhile, its opponents net just 58.8 ppg on a mere 34.3 percent shooting. Seven players score at least 8.0 ppg, led by Kyle Wiltjer with 15.3 ppg. Pangos (12.3 ppg) shoots 61.5 percent from the field and has 38 assists to just four turnovers. Wesley (12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Sabonis (12.3 ppg), Bell (10.5 ppg), Karnowski (8.3 ppg) and Angel Nunez (9.0 ppg) are all regular contributors to one of the deepest teams in the country.