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Gonzaga vs. BYU game recap: Bulldogs barely escape with their lives

It wasn't pretty, but Gonzaga pushed past the toughest part of the WCC schedule.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs built an early 16-point lead to open the game, but the win wouldn't come easy as BYU stormed back and the Bulldogs were able to hold on, 87-80, at the Marriott Center on Saturday.

The talk of Gonzaga running the WCC table can officially begin, although it took a pretty solid scare throughout the game. Gonzaga opened up the game with a 16-point lead as BYU couldn't buy a bucket to save their lives. But then, BYU's offense awoke from its slumber and the Zags suddenly found themselves going into half tied thanks to Kyle Collinsworth draining a three at time expired.

In the second half, there was a rare showing from road-Kevin Pangos. The senior point guard for the Bulldogs took over when he was needed most and scored eight-straight points to bring the Bulldogs back from the dead. Pangos finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and went 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

The defense was stellar to start the game, holding BYU to under 40 percent shooting in the entire contest. But they slacked off a bit as the game progressed, and BYU leapt right into the contest. Don't let the final score fool you, the Zags had to grind this one out to win.

With the win, the Bulldogs have the hardest test in the WCC behind their backs already. Time for a few points.

  • I don't like to complain about refs, because I feel that when Gonzaga is at home we get our calls as well -- but this game couldn't have been anymore lopsided. It wasn't so much the discrepancy in the fouls that were called against Gonzaga, much of them were deserved. It was more so the fouls that weren't called. Gonzaga, particularly Przemek Karnowski, were continually hammered without calls. It was frustrating, but also a reminder that we are back in WCC ref territory. Adjust your emotions and expectations accordingly.
  • Kyle Wiltjer destroys all zones. BYU was able to get back into the game in part due to switching to a zone defense. That was when Wiltjer wasn't in the game. When he is in, a zone defense just isn't possible.
  • I'm surprised that coach Mark Few only ran out eight players in this game. Depth is one of the big surpluses of Gonzaga, and it wasn't on show tonight. Gary Bell only played four minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. Domantas Sabonis was largely non-existent in this game, but Few refused to go much beyond the bench.
  • Byron Wesley was terrific in the first half, then went away in the second half. He returned for a key basket and defensive top in consecutive possessions towards the end of the game. Wesley finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and he might be the x-factor for the Bulldogs every game.
The Bulldogs get a well earned 48 hours off before continuing the road trip to San Diego on Monday. Go Zags.