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WCC team of the week and power rankings: A return to normalcy

The order of the teams in the power rankings looks a lot like it has over the past few seasons. All the teams that were supposed to be good this year are finally playing like it.

Domantas Sabonis and Gonzaga have plenty of reasons to smile.
Domantas Sabonis and Gonzaga have plenty of reasons to smile.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Team of the Week

Guard: Alec Wintering Junior, Portland Pilots
Guard: Nick Emery Freshman, BYU Cougars
Guard/Forward: Lamond Murray Jr. Junior, Pepperdine Waves
Forward: Jett Raines Senior, Pepperdine Waves
Forward: Domantas Sabonis Sophomore, Gonzaga Bulldogs


Alec Wintering: Kept the Pilots in the game at Gonzaga with 27 points and six assists. The always entertaining 5-foot-11 junior point guard showed no fear of Gonzaga's vaunted front line by repeatedly driving into the trees.

Nick Emery: He's not Ben Simmons or playing for Kentucky but Nick Emery continues to have one of the better freshman campaigns in the country. He averaged 22 points and four made threes per game last week.

Lamond Murray Jr.: Career highs in points (31) and rebounds (10) helped the Waves past the Tigers on Thursday.

Jett Raines: A career high 24 points in the Waves win over Saint Mary's was the encore performance after a 20 point outing against Pacific.

Domantas Sabonis: Fourth consecutive Team of the Week honors for the sophomore. He could well make the team each week of the season with the way he's playing — 28 points and 17 rebounds against Portland, while also dishing out four assists.

Power Rankings

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (13-3, 5-0)
Last week: W 85-74 vs. Portland
This week: 1/14 vs. BYU, 1/16 vs. San Diego
Previous: Second

The Zags got another monster performance from their two headed monster up front of Kyle Wiltjer (32 points) and Domantas Sabonis (28 points, 17 rebounds) in a win over Portland on Saturday. That win, coupled with a loss from Saint Mary's, pushed the Zags back on top of the standings and power rankings. Most impressive though was the defensive effort put forth from the Gonzaga guards. A much maligned unit all season the backcourt is finally starting to string together consistently good performances. While they didn't fill the stat sheet against Portland, they held the trigger happy Pilots in check from long range.

2. Saint Mary's Gaels (14-2, 5-1)
Last week: W 73-48 at Loyola Marymount, L 67-64 at Pepperdine
This week: 1/14 vs. Pacific
Previous: First

Saint Mary's quest for a perfect conference record ended on just their first trip outside the Bay Area this season. After easily dispatching LMU the Gaels' prolific offense sputtered on the back end of their Pacific Coast Highway tour. With a ridiculously light non-conference schedule and a somewhat down WCC — Pepperdine and BYU both impressed last week, which could help turn the league around come March — make this loss at Pepperdine sting more than it would otherwise. Saint Mary's just spilled coffee on an already unimpressive resume.

3. BYU Cougars (12-5, 3-1)
Last week: W 97-61 vs. Santa Clara, W 102-92 vs. San Francisco
This week: 1/14 at Gonzaga, 1/16 at Portland
Previous: Third

Kyle Collinsworth picked up the ninth triple-double of his career against Santa Clara, in what was maybe the most complete game of basketball the Cougars have played this season. BYU shot over 40% from three in both games they played this week, including going 15-30 against San Francisco. The problem area remains on the defensive end, where the Cougars just gave up 92 points against USF. The Dons offensive effiency of 115.2 is the third highest mark against BYU this season and the most in a game the Cougars did not lose.

4. Pepperdine Waves (10-6, 3-2)
Last week: W 81-76 vs. Pacific, W 67-64 vs. Saint Mary's
This week: 1/14 at Santa Clara, 1/16 at San Francisco
Previous: Fifth

Pepperdine opened the week by struggling at home and nearly allowing a weak Pacific team to storm back late and steal a win. But on Saturday with Saint Mary's in town the Waves looked completely different. If Marty Wilson's squad has returned to its defensive identity then the Waves are back on track. It's too late now to make up for a disappointing start to the season, but it's not too late for this team to play like they should and challenge for the WCC title. Or, it might just be another example of Pepperdine playing to the level of its opponent.

5. San Francisco Dons (9-7, 3-3)
Last week: W 73-65 at San Diego, L 102-92 at BYU
This week: 1/14 vs. Loyola Marymount, 1/16 vs. Pepperdine
Previous: Fourth

Tim Derksen (15.3 ppg) and Devin Watson (20.3 ppg) had another big week, which is something I think I've said in here every week this season. Ronnie Boyce (9.3 ppg) was the supporting cast member who stepped up for the Dons last week. The junior college transfer had the game high with 22 points against San Diego then put up 13 against BYU. San Francisco's offense is now balanced and quite potent. Not only did they drop 92 points in Provo but rank fourth in the conference, behind Saint Mary's, Gonzaga and BYU, in points per possession at 1.050.

6. Santa Clara Broncos (6-12, 2-4)
Last week: L 97-61 at BYU, W 65-53 at San Diego
This week: 1/14 vs. Pepperdine, 1/16 vs. Loyola Marymount
Previous: Sixth

Obscured by a terrible performance against BYU is a positive trend on the offensive end for Santa Clara. The Broncos average 0.956 points per possession this season. That's not good, but they're better than that number. Not once in their first eight games did the Broncos manage to score over one point per possession. Since then they've been held below one point per possession on just three occasions (at Nevada, vs. Saint Mary's and at BYU). Only against BYU were they held below their season average of 0.956. The Broncos are on the rise.

7. Portland Pilots (8-10, 2-3)
Last week: L 85-74 at Gonzaga
This week: 1/14 vs. San Diego, 1/16 vs. BYU
Previous: Seventh

It's hard to fault a team for losing in the Kennel. It's hard to drop the Pilots because of that, but also because none of the teams below them have any right to climb in these rankings. As long as Alec Wintering (17.6 ppg) is on The Bluff the Pilots will have a shot against just about anyone in the WCC. His 27 points against Gonzaga is the only reason that game was relatively close.

8. Pacific Tigers (4-11, 3-3)
Last week: L 81-76 at Pepperdine, W 60-58 at Loyola Marymount
This week: 1/14 at Saint Mary's
Previous: Ninth

A one point overtime win over Santa Clara. A two point win over San Diego (in which the Tigers gave up 75 points to an otherwise hapless offense). A two point win at Loyola Marymount. The Tigers three WCC wins have come by a combined five points. Two of them came against teams ranked below them in the power rankings. They are, unlike those below them, at least winning games.

9. Loyola Marymount Lions (7-9, 0-5)
Last week: L 73-48 vs. Saint Mary's, L 60-58 vs. Pacific
This week: 1/14 at San Francisco, 1/16 at Santa Clara
Previous: Eighth

Another week winless in conference play, a third straight drop in the power rankings. Since the start of conference play the Lions are dead last in the WCC in offensive efficiency (89.9) and second to last in defensive efficiency (115.0). Adom Jacko is a beast but that's about it.

10. San Diego Toreros (5-10, 0-4)
Last week: L 73-65 vs. San Francisco, L 65-53 vs. Santa Clara
This week: 1/7 vs. San Francisco, 1/9 vs. Santa Clara
Previous: 10th

You've got to feel for first year head coach Lamont Smith, since he inherited a basketball team without anyone who can shoot the basketball. Of players who average over 10 minutes per game only centers Jito Kok (50.6%) and Brandon Perry (53.2%) are shooting over 42% from the field. Oh, and Perry just transferred out of the program.