The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been hot and cold in WCC play, and so far it has corresponded to whether or not the Zags were at home. For much of the first half against Portland, it looked like Gonzaga forgot they were supposed to be winning this game handily.
Considering that the spread on the game was somewhere in the area of 19 points, if you would've told me that the score was 22-21 with three minutes left in the half, I would've called you crazy.
But that is what it was, because for the better part of 15 minutes, neither Portland nor Gonzaga could figure out how to put the ball in the hoop. At one point, Gonzaga rattled off a 1-for-14 shooting streak, which came pretty close to coinciding with Portland's nine-straight missed field goals.
But then the Zags settled down, and the game went right back to how it was supposed to go. Gonzaga started to go inside, and the Pilots were completely overmatched. Kyle Wiltjer led all scorers with 32 points, but Sabonis once again was the star of the game. Sabonis finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals. He also had five turnovers, but who cares. That line is a monstrosity.
And it is a good thing that the Wiltjer/Sabonis duo combined for 60 points, because this was yet another hard night for the Gonzaga backcourt. Eric McClellan, after a nice streak of consistent games, had just six points on 3-of-10 shooting. Josh Perkins went just 2-of-7 from the floor, but was also 6-of-6 from the free throw line and tallied seven dimes as well (he also fouled out...again).
Once the Zags had this game in hand, there wasn't much Portland could do. Alec Wintering tried his hardest, finishing with 27 points, but a brutal three-point night from one of the most aggressive three-point shooting teams in the country makes for a recipe that goes down the garbage disposal. Portland hit just 4-of-20 from the beyond the arc. Wiltjer alone went 6-of-9 from three-point land.
All in all, the game was pretty "meh" for the Zags. Seeing Sabonis and Wiltjer light it up is nice and all, but there were just enough of the recurring negative things about this team to leave a somewhat sour taste in the mouth. The Zags turned the ball over 16 times. Sabonis and Wiltjer combined to shoot 59.3 percent from the floor. The rest of the team had a paltry 25 percent field-goal percentage.
That said, if Wiltjer and Sabonis are able to combine for 60 points in a game, there is a good chance Gonzaga is going to win it. Also, as a team, the Zags went 24-for-29 from the free throw line, which is a fantastic improvement. The Zags were extra aggressive on the offensive boards, snaring 18 of them, which helped lead to 15 second-half points. Although there were a few stumbles, especially early on with that ugly play, the game never at any moment seemed out of control or in a precarious position. In the end, as the saying goes, a win is a win. And Gonzaga won.