It was almost a repeat of the game against UConn in the Battle 4 Atlantis, although the collapse wasn't as severe. Gonzaga entered halftime with a 10 point lead thanks to 20 points from Kyle Wiltjer and 12 points from Domantas Sabonis. The two big men outscored Arizona by themselves, and Gonzaga seemed well on its way to a win.
But then, the second half started. And once again, Gonzaga came out looking lethargic, lazy, and basically like a completely different team. Gabe York heated up from beyond the arc and the Bulldogs had no answer. Arizona's defense tightened up and Gonzaga had no answer. Lazy turnovers doomed the team and Arizona was able to turn a 10-point deficit into a five-point lead.
Credit to Arizona and Sean Miller is definitely due. They rolled into an incredibly raucous arena and looked like deer in headlights. Wiltjer and Sabonis looked like they were going to dismantle Arizona on their own. Arizona rolled out of Spokane as the winner, and once again, Gonzaga falls in a very frustrating game to Arizona. I'm not sure I actually want this series to continue.
This is a tough loss to swallow. News that Przemek Karnowski would sit out his second consecutive game with back issues tempered early expectations a bit. But Gonzaga came out and looked like a visibly better team. Then it all fell apart, for the second time in three games.
No one was really quite sure what to expect with this season, and perhaps we got a bit spoiled by how good the team was last year. This season, as we have seen so far, is going to be an absolutely insane, emotional rollercoaster. If any of us come out of it without suffering multiple heart attacks it will be an amazing feat.
Some other thoughts.
- This tale of two halves garbage is getting tiring. Gonzaga shot 58.6 in the first half, Arizona shot 32.3 in the first half. Gonzaga shot 31.3 in the second half, Arizona shot 50 in the second half. In the Bulldogs last four games (today included), GU has outscored opponents 151-120. In the second-half, GU has been outscored 140-115.
- If there is anybody that exemplifies that Jekyl and Hyde syndrome, it is Josh Perkins. The GU point guard finished with just six points and five turnovers. There aren't many pleasant words to use with Perkins second half. He was abysmal, to the point of needing Mark Few to pull him aside before he loses his composure. Problem is, you can't put Perkins on the bench. Who will fill the 37 minutes he played tonight? Gonzaga has to strap in and ride this season out with him.
- Mark Few basically ran out a FIVE MAN rotation. Silas Melson logged 15 minutes, Ryan "Space Eater" Edwards with six minutes, and Bryan Alberts with two minutes. Considering how visibly stunted the offense looked in the second half, it really makes no sense to not try and inject some new energy into there.
- Kyle Wiltjer is such a fun basketball player to watch.
- Gonzaga turned the ball over 16 times too many, and once again so many of them were unforced, sloppy errors. Generally speaking, when you turn the ball over 16 times, you lose to good teams.
- If Gonzaga can stretch 40 minutes of basketball from what we saw in the first half they are legitimately one of the best teams in the country. If Gonzaga continues to not be able to stretch first half success into the second, they are going home in the first round.