Top-ranked Gonzaga will be back on the court for the first time in nine days when it hosts Detroit Mercy on Monday night in Spokane, Wash.
The Bulldogs return to the hardwood with five straight wins since suffering their lone loss of the season to Michigan on Nov. 29.
The streak includes a three-game stretch against Washington, Arizona and North Carolina. The final contest before the break was a 112-77 thrashing of Eastern Washington on Dec. 21.
“This is as good a run as we’ve been on,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the trio of games that helped lead to a strong 13-1 start. “It’s been an amazing three weeks: tough game, tough game, tough game. We need a break.”
The Bulldogs figure to catch a break against the Titans (2-11), who have lost eight of their past nine games.
Detroit Mercy also could be victims of fatigue, having lost 78-69 to Oakland on Saturday in Michigan before traveling west. The Titans are 0-7 on the road.
Of course, Gonzaga owns the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 30.
Bulldogs senior forward Killian Tillie is one player who welcomed the stretch without a game.
Tillie underwent knee surgery in October and missed the first four games and five of the initial seven. He later injured an ankle during the Arizona game and has played through the pain.
Tillie, who is averaging 11.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in nine games, wasn’t sure which body part needed the rest more.
“I don’t know, man — ankle, knee, mind, everything,” Tillie told the Spokesman-Review of Spokane.
Tillie ranks third on the squad in scoring behind sophomore forward Filip Petrusev (16.7) and junior wing Corey Kispert (14.9). Petrusev leads the Bulldogs in rebounding (8.1) and blocked shots (20).
Gonzaga is scoring an average of 88.2 points per contest and has topped 100 three times. The output against Eastern Washington represented a season best.
Detroit doesn’t record many victories but it does have a high-volume shooter in sophomore guard Antoine Davis.
Davis scored 24 points against Oakland for his 33rd career 20-point games in 42 college contests. Davis averages 25.2 points per game.
Davis ranks seventh in Detroit history with 171 career 3-pointers. He knocked down 132 last season to break the national freshman record set by current NBA star Stephen Curry, who made 122 in 2006-07 for Davidson.
Davis, who is the son of Titans coach Mike Davis — the former Indiana head man — also averages a team-best 4.4 assists. He made 38.0 percent of shots from beyond the arc last season, but is at 29.3 percent this season (39 of 133).
Detroit received a huge performance from sophomore forward Chris Brandon in the loss to Oakland as he grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds. It was the most boards for a Titan since Greg Grant collected 20 against Toledo on Dec. 5, 1992.
Brandon grabbed 28 rebounds in the past two games after pulling down just 38 in the first 11 games. A recent critique from his coach might have spurred his sudden improvement.
“Chris has the ability to play. He just can’t be inconsistent,” Davis said during a press conference. “He needs to practice harder to be consistent. You can’t just practice when you feel like practicing.”
Gonzaga won the previous two meetings between the schools.
–Field Level Media