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10 Observations from the Tennessee game

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NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga vs Tennessee Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Technically, the Zags will play no true away games on their non-conference schedule, but the mostly pro-Volunteer crowd in Nashville provided a good test for this squad. Coupled with the manner in which they closed out the game, Mark Few is probably quite pleased with the manner in which his team secured this win.

  1. Tennessee’s warmup pants set basketball fashion back by about 60 years. Meanwhile, the Zags are 2-0 this season in the black jerseys.
  2. Nigel Williams-Goss played a complete game. The Volunteer guards were having a really difficult time keeping him out of the paint on offense, and he was all over the passing lanes on the defensive end. He also demonstrated his rebounding ability by elevating and securing the ball high in traffic.
  3. We’ve mentioned it before, but Gonzaga’s matchup versatility is very tough for opponents. Tennessee tried to speed up the Bulldogs in the first half to their detriment. The Vols needed to play uptempo on offense while slowing Gonzaga’s tempo on defense, which is easier said than done.
  4. Jordan Mathews gets opponents to bite on the pump fake every time. That fake always works because teams have so much respect for his outside shooting ability plus opposing guards are often having to recover after doubling in the post. I also wonder if teams are seeing that Mathews can effectively alter his shot arc, and are resigned to leaving their feet to contest? Otherwise, 11 straight opponents have shown no closeout discipline against Mathews.
  5. Gonzaga’s guards were getting whatever they wanted on the offensive end in the first half, but I would have liked them to take advantage of Przemek’s mismatch in the post. Przemek only had one shot attempt in the first half, and the Zags didn’t really try to establish a post offense until the second half.
  6. Zach Collins continues to show he has no problem getting greasy buckets in the paint. He plays with an edge, but is also very composed and doesn’t get rattled when the game gets tight. His free throw shooting in this game was excellent and helped the Zags hold off Tennessee’s run in the second half.
  7. Tennessee started to play really aggressive defense on the perimeter, regularly blitzing dribble handoffs and doubling the ballhandler above the arc. With Perkins and NWG not playing together as much in the second half because of foul trouble, Gonzaga had more of an issue dealing with the traps than in previous games.
  8. Give Tennessee credit for taking advantage of Gonzaga’s foul trouble by driving to the rim with frequency in the second half. They knew the Zag players couldn’t afford to contest shots. 22 free throw attempts and seven made 3s in the second half by the Vols shrunk the deficit to 4 points.
  9. When Mark Few gets a technical foul, you know something’s not right. Credit to the coaching staff and players for not losing their composure, I probably would have been ejected if I was in their position.
  10. The rebounding issues continue to be a problem. Przemek corralled some big time rebounds in the second half, but overall 20 of Tennessee’s 38 rebounds came off the offensive glass. Rebounding should not be this big of a problem considering the makeup of the roster. The Zags have 8 days off between the South Dakota and Pepperdine game, and they should use that time to work on loose ball and boxing out drills.