FACTS & STATS: Site: American Airlines Center (20,000) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Gonzaga 4-1, Baylor 7-0. Away Record: Gonzaga 0-2, Baylor 0-0. Neutral Record: Gonzaga 1-2, Baylor 0-0. Conference Record: Gonzaga 0-0, Baylor 0-0. Series Record: Gonzaga leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Celebrating their highest ranking in program history, the ninth- ranked Baylor Bears hit the road for the first time in 2010-11 as they entertain the Gonzaga Bulldogs in non-conference action at American Airlines Center in Dallas as part of The Showcase.
Baylor, which trails only third-ranked Kansas in the Big 12 Conference standings, has put together a perfect 7-0 record to this point, albeit against questionable competition. Outside of a 68-54 win over Arizona State earlier this month the Bears really haven't beaten anyone of consequence. Three nights ago the squad cranked out an 83-39 win over Bethune-Cookman to further bolster their stats.
As for the Bulldogs, a team that typically generates solid win totals both in and out of conference, they are a mere 5-5 at the moment and needed a crushing 103-61 win over NAIA foe Lewis-Clark State College to halt a three-game slide. In defense of the 'Zags, all five of their setbacks have come against opponents that are or have been ranked during the first five weeks of the season.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, Gonzaga has taken the two previous meetings. The most recent of those came in 2006 as part of the preseason NIT with the Bulldogs capturing a 78-69 victory at Spokane Arena.
It was almost shameful how badly the Bulldogs beat up on Lewis-Clark a couple nights ago, holding the visitors to a mere 32.3 percent shooting from the field and 21.1 percent behind the three-point line. Elias Harris tallied a game-high 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds, leading six players in double figures, four of which turned the trick off the bench. Reserves Mathis Moenninghoff and Kelly Olynyk both shot 5-of-6 from the floor as they tallied 15 and 14 points, respectively, followed by Robert Sacre with 13 points, Sam Dower 12 and David Stockton 10 points in the decision. Steven Gray, who managed just three points in 10 minutes the last time out, still leads the Bulldogs in scoring overall this season with his 16.8 ppg and is also first in assists with better than five per game. Sacre (12.0 ppg) and Harris (11.3 ppg) combine for almost 12 rebounds per game and that has helped give the team a rebounding edge of more than seven per game at this stage of the season. Beating up on the Warriors also pushed the Bulldogs closer to 80 ppg through 10 games.
For the first time since 1958 the Bears held an opponent to less than 40 points in 40 minutes, but against a team like Bethune-Cookman it wasn't all that great an accomplishment. For the fourth straight game LaceDarius Dunn scored at least 20 points as he tallied a game-high 24 for Baylor, leading four players in double figures. Perry Jones tallied 15 points and nine rebounds and Quincy Acy managed to complete the double-double effort with 14 points and a team-best 10 boards in the triumph as well. Dunn, who missed the first few games of the campaign, has come back strong for the squad with his 23.0 ppg, shooting not only 52.9 percent from the floor but also an outstanding 51.3 percent behind the three-point line as well. Acy (14.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and Jones (13.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg) handle the action in the paint for a group that is completely dominating the opposition on the glass by an average of more than 13 rebounds per game right now. The Bears have outscored foes by a 111-49 margin at the free-throw line and because of that opponents have come up with an average of only 51.9 ppg thus far.
Obviously the Bulldogs are not the same team this year that they've been in the past, but still they have the talent and tenacity to give Baylor a good run tonight and could well post the upset if they push hard enough.