Preview: Struggling Gonzaga faces tough test at No. 17 Kentucky

Feb 9, 2024, 9:02 AM | Updated: Feb 10, 2024, 4:08 pm

Gonzaga Anton Watson...

Anton Watson of the Gonzaga Bulldogs hauls in a rebound against UCLA on Nov. 22, 2023. (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

(Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

Gonzaga Bulldogs (17-6, 8-2 WCC) at No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats (16-6, 6-4 SEC)

Saturday, 1 p.m.

Bottom line

No. 17 Kentucky plays the Gonzaga Bulldogs after Antonio Reeves scored 24 points in Kentucky’s 109-77 victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Gonzaga has a streak of 24 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, but the Zags are missing a signature win this season and have suffered losses to four unranked teams (UW Huskies, San Diego State, Santa Clara and Saint Mary’s). That puts their tourney streak at as high of a risk seen since at least 2015-16, when the Bulldogs finished the regular season unranked with a 23-7 record but swept the WCC Tournament and then made the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed.

Gonzaga fell out of the Associated Press top 25 in mid-January for the first time since 2016, but an upset of Kentucky could help Gonzaga build a route to the field of 68 that doesn’t have to include a win in the West Coast Conference Tournament.

The Bulldogs are 3-2 in road games. Gonzaga leads the WCC with 43.0 points per game in the paint led by Graham Ike averaging 9.7.

The Wildcats are 10-3 on their home court. Kentucky leads the SEC with 89.7 points and is shooting 49.2%.

Kentucky scores 89.7 points, 22.1 more per game than the 67.6 Gonzaga allows. Gonzaga has shot at a 50.7% clip from the field this season, 8.7 percentage points higher than the 42.0% shooting opponents of Kentucky have averaged.

Top performers

Reeves is averaging 19.7 points for the Wildcats. Reed Sheppard is averaging 2.3 made 3-pointers over the last 10 games for Kentucky.

Ike is scoring 15.0 points per game with 7.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists for the Bulldogs. Anton Watson is averaging 15.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals over the past 10 games for Gonzaga.

Last 10 games for Gonzaga and Kentucky

Kentucky Wildcats: 6-4, averaging 88.1 points, 40.0 rebounds, 16.5 assists, 6.4 steals and 6.2 blocks per game while shooting 48.0% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 84.2 points per game.

Gonzaga Bulldogs: 8-2, averaging 86.3 points, 37.9 rebounds, 16.6 assists, 7.6 steals and 3.5 blocks per game while shooting 53.3% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 66.6 points.

Seattle Sports staff contributed to this post.

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