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10 Observations from the USF Game

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NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at San Francisco Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Fun game for the Bulldogs in the Bay as they handled business against the upstart USF Dons in front of what looked to be a sizable Gonzaga crowd at the War Memorial Gymnasium.

  1. USF’s first look from 3 was a wide open shot. Though they missed, it seemed ominous at the time considering their national ranking from deep going into the game. However, the Zags did a good job the rest of the game of closing out hard at the line and contesting, limiting the Dons to 24.1% (7-29) from distance.
  2. The pace of the game through the first 10 minutes was pretty uptempo, which both teams like to play. However, as many teams have found out this season, just because Gonzaga is big doesn’t mean they can’t run for a whole game.
  3. Great job by Gonzaga’s bigs, particularly Zach Collins and Killian Tillie, in playing the passing lanes against USF’s Princeton offense. The pair of freshmen did a great job on multiple occasions of stepping up to deny penetration and then sliding back into the passing lane.
  4. Sticking with the freshmen bigs, they have been playing well together all year for the most part, but you can see that the chemistry is further along on both ends of the court than it was just two months ago. They were playing a really strong high-low game off each other in the first half.
  5. Much like he did in the Pepperdine game, Jordan Mathews dominated from the corner 3 spot. He was 3-5 from the spot and had another make with his foot on the line. His work inside the arc leaves a little to be desired, but the spacing he provides is invaluable to Gonzaga’s offense.
  6. USF played pretty aggressively on defense, and were not shy about extending ball pressure all the way to the halfcourt line. Despite their deficit in size and talent to the Zags, they are a well coached and young group that I can easily see giving the WCC’s Top 3 some tough games in the years to come. Their freshman guard in particular, Jordan Ratinho, was fearless driving to the rim. That’s a quality you want to see in young players.
  7. Great work by Gonzaga on the boards as they limited USF to only 4 offensive rebounds and 23 rebounds overall compared to 39 for the Zags. Hopefully they’ve turned the corner with the rebounding woes.
  8. Not the best of nights from Josh Perkins who had 6 assists, but only 2 points (1-5 FG) and a troubling 6 turnovers. A lot of the turnovers harkened back to early in the 2015-16 season as he seemed to be playing too fast. He’ll bounce back though.
  9. The 15-point margin of victory doesn’t flatter the Zags as much as it should. This was a very well-played game outside of a little bit of ball security trouble. USF did an admirable job of not letting Gonzaga pull away for a blowout, but it was nice to have a comfortable win at the Hilltop after some of those nightmare games earlier in the decade.
  10. Saving the best for last, NIGEL WILLIAMS-GOSS was a monster. He had a great job attacking the boards, distributing the ball off penetration as he was getting into the teeth of the USF defense with ease, and was equally adept at scoring inside or out. He pulled all the right strings for the entirety of the game, and the efficiency with which he scored his career high 36 points (12-15 FG) should put the rest of the country on notice not to sleep on him when discussing the nation’s best point guards. This was easily one of the best games by a Gonzaga player at USF in the last decade (Sabonis last year and Morrison in ‘06 are the other two that come to mind).