Santa Clara, California (Sporting Alert) — After stepping out of conference to secure an 82-64 victory over Memphis at the weekend, No. 2 Gonzaga returns to league play on Thursday night at Santa Clara.
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The Bulldogs (22-1, 10-0 WCC) enter this contest on a 15-game winning streak, while posting an undefeated 10-0 record in the West Coast Conference.
At 52.8-percent, the Zags also come into this contest ranked No. 1 in NCAA DI men’s basketball field goal shooting percentage. Their 80.9 average points per game is 7th in the nation, while ranking 8th in assists per game, at 17.0.
Santa Clara (11-12, 5-6 WCC), in the meantime, is on a two game losing streak after dropping games on the road against San Diego and BYU in conference play.
The pair of defeats have seen the Broncos slipping under .500 this season, while its four-game winning streak also came to an end.
This will also be the second meeting between the two teams, with the then-No. 6 Gonzaga running away 79-57 winners in the first clash on Jan. 10.
Brandon Clark, who is averaging 16.0 points per game and shooting 35.8 percent from the field and Jared Brownridge, who is averaging 14.4 points and going 42.9 percent from the floor and 43.3 from three-pointers, are expected to carry the bulk of the offense for Santa Clara.
According to the stats gurus, the Broncos, who have the worst field goal percentage in the WCC, 41.8percent, have had a dismal run against top 25 teams — dropping their last 25 contests against such ranked opponents — with 16 of those defeats coming against Gonzaga.
While averaging almost 81 points per game, the Zags are holding teams to just 62.3, with Santa Clara allowing 66.2 points per game.
Junior forward Kyle Wiltjer, who scored 15 points and shot almost 55 percent from the field, is expected to lead the attacking force for the Bulldogs.
He is averaging 15.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season.