Gonzaga vs Baylor

Time: 04:30 P.M. EST

Baylor started this year ranked behind Gonzaga in the preseason poll but has climbed into the top 10 for the first time in school history thanks to some impressive wins and a favorable schedule.

The Bulldogs are no longer ranked, as they've struggled to navigate through a brutal schedule.

The ninth-ranked Bears, off to their best start in a decade, play their first game away from campus Saturday in Dallas against a Gonzaga team facing its fifth Top 25 opponent of the season.

Baylor (7-0) hasn't been challenged much since opening the year No. 16, winning by an average of 24.8 points. The competition hasn't been the stiffest, however, with the Bears beating the likes of Grambling State, Prairie View A&M and Bethune-Cookman. A mediocre Arizona State team is the only opponent Baylor has faced from one of the six power conferences.

While the Bears have enjoyed beating up on lesser opponents, Gonzaga (5-5), which opened at No. 12, has seemingly faced tough teams each time out.

The Bulldogs' five losses have come to sixth-ranked Kansas State, No. 11 San Diego State, 12th-ranked Illinois, No. 24 Notre Dame and Washington State, which is currently receiving votes in the poll. The combined record of those teams is 46-4.

"It's been such a tough schedule," said Steven Gray, Gonzaga's lone senior. "I don't know what people were expecting from this squad going in."

The Bulldogs finally caught a break with the schedule Thursday when they faced Lewis-Clark State, handing the NAIA Division I team a 103-61 loss to snap a three-game skid. Sophomore Elias Harris led the way with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting, while freshman Mathis Monninghoff hit 5 of 6 shots from 3-point range for a season-high 15 points as Gonzaga shot a season-best 60.7 percent.

"We understand that we're better than our record shows," said Gray, who is averaging a team-high 16.8 points. "We understand that we've been playing all these big-time schools and big-time teams. It's going to pay off in the long run."

The difficult schedule might help Gonzaga later when it opens West Coast Conference play, but it figures to be in for another tough time against Baylor.

The Bears, off to their best start since the 2000-01 team opened 12-0, are first in the nation in scoring defense at 51.9 points, tied for third in rebounding differential at 13.3 per game and fourth in field goal defense at 35.5 percent. They're also led by one of the top scorers in the nation in LaceDarius Dunn.

Since being suspended for the first three games, Dunn is averaging 23.0 points on 20-of-39 shooting from 3-point range. The senior had 24 points in Wednesday's 83-39 win over Bethune-Cookman.

Baylor got off to a bit of a sluggish start in that contest, but that could be attributed to the team playing its first game since a 68-54 victory over the Sun Devils 13 days earlier.

"It has been a while since we played and you could tell," Dunn said. "But it was fun to get out there and playing against Bethune-Cookman and just getting back into the flow of things. Now we got to get focused on Gonzaga."

This will be the first meeting between these schools since the Bulldogs' 78-69 victory in 2006 at Spokane, Wash. Gonzaga also won the first meeting by 30 points in 1991.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

West Coast
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
St. Marys16-229-517
San Fran.10-820-1394
Santa Clara10-817-16125
San Diego6-1213-18204
Big 12
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
W. Virginia12-628-924
Iowa St.12-624-1121
Oklahoma St.9-920-1340
Kansas St.8-1021-1457
Texas Tech6-1218-14123

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Key Players
32.3 Min. Per Game 31.6 Quincy<br>Acy
16.8 Pts. Per Game 14.7
5.2 Ast. Per Game 1.0
3.8 Reb. Per Game 9.3
45.9 Field Goal % 55.2
42.6 Three Point % -
75.0 Free Throw % 80.6
Other Games
LOYM 75 Final
USC 68 Final
Kansas 70
Illinois 54 Final
UIC 57
SC 57 Final
Ohio St 79
Arkansas 62 Final
Tx A&M 71
Grd-Web 49 Final
Louisville 78
K-State 44 Final
Florida 57
Indiana St 52 Final
Purdue 65
Texas 78 Final
NC 76
BYU 79 Final
PV A&M 51 Final
Mich St 90
Md-E Shr 64 Final
IONA 77 Final
Syracuse 83
Delaware 59 Final
MS Val St 60 Final
Kentucky 85
CAR 63 Final
Missouri 116
So Utah 50 Final
UCSB 64 Final