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BYU-Gonzaga Preview

AP - Sports

After losing at the buzzer of a defensive struggle against a nationally ranked opponent, Gonzaga likely faces a different type of test as it resumes conference play.

The 10th-ranked Bulldogs will try to bounce back and stay atop the West Coast Conference on Thursday night when they host BYU in a showdown between two of the nation's top scoring teams.

The Bulldogs rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring at 79.4 per game and field goal percentage at 51.2, while the Cougars have reached 80 points in 11 of 20 games and rank in the nation's top 20 at 78.3 per game.

Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0) and BYU (15-5, 5-1) are first and second, respectively, in the WCC in scoring.

It could be quite a contrast from Gonzaga's last game, when it led by one at defensive-minded Butler with 3.5 seconds left before the hosts - previously ranked 13th - stole an inbounds pass and hit a buzzer-beater for a 64-63 victory on Saturday.

"We didn't have a timeout. We went into our pressure out-of-bounds set. We threw it a little early,'' said coach Mark Few, whose club had its eight-game winning streak snapped. "We wanted the ball going back to the basket, just couldn't execute it. That's totally 100 percent on me.''

Few's club will try to begin a new streak behind red-hot senior forward Kelly Olynyk, who has averaged 24.8 points on 65.5 percent shooting his last four games to raise his team-high average to 18.0 points.

Elias Harris (14.9), who had 20 points against Butler, and Kevin Pangos (12.1) are also averaging in double figures for the Bulldogs.

Pangos has scored 48 in his last two against the Cougars, including 30 in a 77-58 victory in last year's conference tournament semifinals.

Gonzaga has been especially efficient at home, where it's averaging 88.6 points on 53.6 percent shooting. The Bulldogs have won eight of nine in Spokane by an average of 22.0 points.

The Cougars, though, have stepped up defensively, allowing 61.5 points per game on 39.4 percent shooting in their six conference contests.

After opening the WCC slate with four straight wins, BYU rebounded from a one-point loss to Saint Mary's to beat San Diego 74-57 on Saturday and deal the Toreros their first conference loss.

"It was good to bounce back like that after losing a heartbreaker," guard Brock Zylstra said. "Coach (Dave Rose) said the character of a team is how fast you can get back up after you've been hit (knocked down)."

Tyler Haws led the Cougars with 25 for his seventh straight 20-point contest. The sophomore guard has averaged 25.7 points while shooting 51.6 percent from the field - including 11 for 24 (45.8 percent) from 3-point range - during the streak.

Senior forward Brandon Davies ranks fourth in the conference at 18.0 points per game, and has averaged 18.3 in his last three against the Bulldogs.

They'll provide a tough challenge for a Gonzaga team that has given up 56.5 points in its last two and leads the WCC in points allowed at 63.2 per game.

Gonzaga has won three of the five all-time meetings after taking two of three last season.

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