Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Two of the nation's top mid-majors collide
in non-conference action on Saturday as top-25 foes Gonzaga and Butler square
off at the Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Mark Few's Bulldogs are once again eyeing up a West Coast Conference title.
Gonzaga has won 17 of its first 18 games on the year with the lone loss coming
against Illinois (85-74) on Dec. 8. Since then, the eighth-ranked Bulldogs
have reeled off eight straight wins, including Thursday's 71-49 rout of
Despite being in a new conference, Butler hasn't missed a beat. Brad Stevens'
squad is 15-2 overall and already has high-profile wins over Marquette, North
Carolina and Indiana. The Bulldogs bring plenty of momentum into this game as
well, sporting a current 12-game win streak, including Wednesday's 62-47 win
This is just the third meeting all-time between these highly successful
programs. Butler won the first meeting in the 2006 NIT Season Tip-Off (79-71).
Gonzaga evened things up with last year's 71-55 rout in Spokane.
WCC leading scorer Kelly Olynyk netted 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds,
leading Gonzaga to a lopsided win over the Pilots on Thursday. Point guard
Kevin Pangos added 14 points to the cause, while forward Elias Harris just
missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Gonzaga is a dangerous offensive squad, averaging a WCC-best 80.3 ppg (seventh
nationally). A trio of double-digit scorers highlight the Bulldog attack, led
by Olynyk in the middle, with 18.3 ppg. A strong finisher around the basket,
Olynyk ranks third nationally in field-goal percentage at 66.5 percent. Harris
can fill up the basket as well, adding 14.6 ppg, while pacing the team on the
boards (6.8 rpg). Pangos is both a potent scorer (12.4 ppg) and deft
distributor (3.6 apg).
Butler is sitting atop the Atlantic 10 standings, so a change of conference
has done little to hinder the team's strong play. These Bulldogs are getting
it done with efficient shooting (.460) and solid scoring depth, although that
depth took a hit with a recent injury to top scorer Rotnei Clarke. The
Arkansas transfer is averaging 16.3 ppg and is one of the nation's top snipers
(.444 from behind the arc), but suffered a neck injury two games ago and will
not play in this contest. Others will certainly need to step up in Clarke's
absence. The likely candidates include center Andrew Smith (12.0 ppg), guard
Kellen Dunham (10.5 ppg) and forward Khyle Marshall (10.5 ppg).
The Bulldogs were without Clarke in the win over the Spiders, using a strong
defensive effort to earn the win. Butler absolutely owned the glass on both
ends of the floor, grabbing 20 offensive boards and 53 rebounds altogether.
Smith led the way with 15 points in the win. Dunham finished with 11 points,
while Roosevelt Jones recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Sports Network