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No. 2 Gonzaga faces Pacific with eye on top spot in poll

Those in Spokane, Wash., have taken to calling it "The Chet Holmgren Experience."

Because saying the 7-foot Gonzaga freshman has "got game" just seems insufficient.

Holmgren, the nation's top recruit coming out of high school, has continued to impress for the second-ranked Bulldogs.

He was named last week as one of 10 candidates for the Karl Malone Award as the nation's top collegiate power forward, an honor won by teammate Drew Timme last season. He enters Thursday night's West Coast Conference matchup with visiting Pacific coming off perhaps his two most impressive performances of the season.

Holmgren had 23 points and 12 rebounds in a 92-62 victory at San Diego on Feb. 3, then totaled 20 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots in a 90-57 win at BYU two nights later.

"That's Chet," Zags coach Mark Few said. "He does a little bit of everything."

For that, Holmgren was named the WCC's Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week.

Against BYU, he became just the fifth Division I player since 2010 to have 20 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and five blocks in a game.

"He's the presumptive No. 1 pick in the NBA draft for a reason," BYU coach Mark Pope, who played six seasons in the NBA, said of Holmgren. "... I think he's a really, really special, maybe a generational player in terms of how unique he is. He's proving it every night now."

Consider this: Holmgren has been so good, the Zags moved Timme inside, where he's one of the candidates for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award as the nation's top center.

"Chet is one of one," teammate Julian Strawther said. "There's literally zero players in the country who can do what he does. He amazes me every time."

The Zags (19-2, 8-0 WCC) figure to move up in the polls next week after No. 1 Auburn's 80-76 overtime loss Tuesday at Arkansas. They will take a 64-game home winning streak into Thursday's game against Pacific (7-16, 2-6), which is winless in 10 road games this season.

The Tigers came close to ending their streak Tuesday at No. 21 USC but couldn't hold a 13-point lead in the second half and lost 74-68. The Trojans played without injured star Isaiah Mobley.

Alphonso Anderson had a team-high 22 points and nine rebounds for Pacific, which had a 38-29 advantage on the boards. Nick Blake added 12 points and Khaleb Wilson-Rouse scored 11.

The Tigers had the lead with 5:30 remaining before USC pulled ahead for good.

"I'm super proud of our kids," Pacific coach Leonard Perry said. "I patted everyone on the head and told them how much I appreciate their effort.

"I was disappointed with the outcome, but I was encouraged by their efforts."

The Zags are 19-1 all-time against Pacific, with the lone loss coming in 1976. Gonzaga has won the past 17 meetings dating to 2012.

Gonzaga has also won 29 consecutive WCC games, the past 26 by double-digits.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 9, 2022

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