Kerry Keating

Santa Clara head coach Kerry Keating offers students special deal for Saturday’s game against No. 10 Gonzaga

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Kerry Keating’s Santa Clara Broncos have been one of the nation’s biggest surprises, as they’re now 12-3 on the season following a 74-69 win over San Francisco in the WCC opener for both teams last night.

And just one week after taking on top-ranked Duke the Broncos will have another chance to make a statement both nationally and within the WCC as No. 10 Gonzaga visits the Leavey Center on Saturday night.

Just one problem: dorms don’t reopen until Sunday, meaning that the student section could lack the energy (and bodies) needed to give the Broncos a boost against the WCC preseason favorite.

With this in mind Keating made an appeal to the students following last night’s game, offering to reimburse students up to $100 if they have to book a hotel room in order to attend the game.

“We need all their energy,” Keating said. “And if any of them read this and any of them want to stay here and can’t have a room on campus … I want them to personally call the office and I will reimburse them up to $100 for a hotel room.”

Santa Clara, due in large part to the loss of both guard Kevin Foster (suspension) and forward Marc Trasolini (torn ACL during their preseason trip to Canada), went 0-16 in WCC play last season. With those two rejoining Evan Roquemore it was expected that the Broncos would be an improved team.

But at 12-3 and already having a win at Saint Louis to its credit, Santa Clara has the opportunity to announce itself as a worthy contender alongside the Bulldogs, BYU and Saint Mary’s with a win on Saturday.

In order to do so not only will Santa Clara need the students to show up en masse but they’ll also need to keep Gonzaga off the boards.

Mark Few’s team is rebounding 39.6% of its missed shots according to statsheet.com, with Kelly Olynyk (2.4 offensive rebounds/game), Elias Harris (1.9) and Mike Hart (1.6) leading the way. And there’s also the matter of slowing down guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr.

Coach Keating and his players have a tough task ahead of them on the court, and as evidenced by his gesture the Broncos would appreciate any help their “6th man” can provide.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

BUBBLE BANTER: Key Atlantic 10, Big East bubble games

Kelan Martin, Kyle Alexander
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This post will be updated throughout the night.

Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ben Simmons, LSU get tested at South Carolina; more important bubble matchups

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives downcourt as teammate Antonio Blakeney (2) follows in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in New York. For all of his gaudy numbers, Simmons is still trying to figure out the best way to put the Tigers in position to win. And now the schedule gets harder, starting with Tuesday night's, Dec. 29, 2015, tilt against Wake Forest, followed by the opening of Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt and No. 10 Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.

LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.

An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
  2. No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
  3. An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
  4. In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
  5. No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.