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Preview: Gonzaga at Portland

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Gonzaga, winners of 21 straight games in the West Coast Conference, looks to widen its conference lead when it visits Portland on Thursday. Despite a rash of injuries, the No. 18 Bulldogs have won three straight - including a blowout of rival Saint Mary's last time out. The sharp-shooting Bulldogs rank third in nation in field goal percentage knocking 52 percent of their shots and have beaten Portland 20 straight times.

The Pilots have lost three of their last four, including a 72-63 decision to those same Gaels last time out. Portland is 6-5 at home but has stumbled since capturing the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic title in late December. The game concludes a five-game homestand for Portland.

TV: 11 p.m. ET, ESPNU

ABOUT PORTLAND (9-7, 1-3 WCC): The Pilots are averaging 78.3 points by getting balanced scoring throughout the lineup, led by Kevin Bailey (17.1). Senior forward Ryan Nicholas recently joined Portland's 1,000-point club and Bryce Pressley scored a career-high 25 points in the Classic finale against Princeton. Nicholas also leads the conference in rebounding (9.3).

ABOUT GONZAGA (14-2, 4-0 WCC): Star guard Kevin Pangos scored 15 points against the Gaels despite being hobbled by a turf toe injury. Gonzaga is also missing starter Gary Bell Jr. (hand) and Sam Dower has played limited due to a back injury. Gonzaga has won four straight games since losing to Kansas State.

TIP-INS

1. This is the first of three straight on the road for Gonzaga.

2. Gonzaga won last year's two meetings by a combined 51 points.

3. Bell is expected to return in early February.

PREDICTION: Gonzaga 92, Portland 78

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/140109/preview-gonzaga-at-portland