St. Mary’s Gaels vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs College Basketball Preview and Pick – Point Spread

St. Mary’s Gaels (21-3 SU, 16-6 ATS) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (19-4 SU, 10-9-1 ATS), 11:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, February 11, 2010, McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Wash. TV: ESPN2
by Ryno of

Point Spread: St. Mary’s +6/Gonzaga -6
Over/Under: 151.5

Gonzaga and St. Mary’s are the class of the West Coast Conference. St. Mary’s is currently 8-1 in conference play and 21-3 overall, while Gonzaga is 7-1 in the WCC and 19-4 overall. This game could very well decide the regular season conference title. It will especially decide it if Gonzaga is to win, since the Zags won at St. Mary’s on January 14, 89-82. The Gaels have to come away with a victory to have a chance at the regular season WCC title.

Gonzaga has had one setback in conference play, an 81-77 loss in overtime at San Francisco on January 30. Since then, the Zags have won two games in a row, both of which were huge victories. First, they defeated Portland at home, 76-49. After each of their four losses this season, the Zags have won their next game by an average of 35.8 points per game.

In their last game, the Zags won at Memphis on Saturday, 66-58. Matt Bouldin scored 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, 3-for-5 on 3-pointers, and 6-for-6 at the free throw line, and he added four rebounds, three assists, and zero turnovers. Robert Sacre had 13 points and six rebounds, and Steven Gray had 12 points and seven rebounds. Freshman forward Elias Harris shot a miserable 2-for-14 from the field for six points but he did contribute six rebounds and five assists. Gonzaga shot 41 percent from the field and 7-for-17 on 3-pointers, held Memphis to 40 percent shooting from the field and 6-for-21 on 3-pointers, and the Zags held the advantage in the rebounding and turnover departments.

The only loss for St. Mary’s in conference play was to Gonzaga. The Gaels have won six games in a row since then. Their last game was a 73-57 home win over San Francisco on Saturday. Omar Samhan had a monster game with 24 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks for the Gaels. Clint Steindl added 12 points for St. Mary’s. If the Gaels can get that type of production from Samhan against Gonzaga, they will have a great chance to pull off the upset victory on the road. If Samhan is able to assert himself down low and get the best of Sacre, it will open things up on the perimeter for the St. Mary’s shooters.

St. Mary’s is yet to lose on the road this season with a perfect 7-0 record. Its three losses include two home losses to Gonzaga and Vanderbilt and one neutral loss to USC. Gonzaga is 10-1 at home this season with its only loss coming to Wake Forest by two points on December 5.

In Gonzaga’s 89-82 win at St. Mary’s earlier this season, the Zags led by 12 at the half before the Gaels made a run in the second half to try and get back into it. But Harris was too strong for the Zags to lose the lead. He had a career game with 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting and 13 rebounds. Bouldin scored 22 points, and Gray had 14 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. The Zags shot 60 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Gaels by 20. St. Mary’s shot 48 percent from the field and 8-for-20 from 3-point range. Samhan had 31 points and 12 rebounds for the Gaels, and freshman guard Matthew Dellavedova scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and 4-for-4 from 3-point range. But the rest of the Gaels only totaled a combined 28 points and 13 rebounds. The Gaels need to help out Samhan on the boards this time around because Bouldin and Gray both are strong rebounders out of the backcourt for Gonzaga, and Sacre and Harris can match Samhan’s toughness down low.

St. Mary’s is 4-1 ATS in its last five road games, 13-6 ATS in its last 19 games overall, and 4-12 ATS in its last 16 games as a road underdog. Gonzaga is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games following an ATS win, 3-7-1 ATS in its last 11 games as a home favorite, and 1-4 ATS in its last five games as a favorite. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings between these teams. The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams at Gonzaga.

Ryno’s Pick: The Zags win this game by 15+.