These WCC home games are following a familiar script. The challenger gets in a few early licks to build suspense, but the champ dominates the later rounds to win the fight going away. USF led for most of the first 10 minutes but were worn down by Gonzaga’s consistency and athleticism as the Zags won, pulling away, 96-61.
Nigel Williams-Goss lit the Dons up for 30 points averaging 33 for the 2 USF games. Przemek Karnowski, the 90% free throw shooter, once again dominated the paint adding 23. Gonzaga outscored the Dons 54 to 26 in the 2nd half after GU stepped up the defensive intensity. The Dons shot 50% (46% from 3) in the first half and 24% (15% from 3) in the second.
USF’s zone defense troubled the Zags for most of the first half and they limited GU’s possessions by not shooting until late in the shot clock. Mark Few’s halftime adjustments were extremely effective, let NWG penetrate for his patented floaters in the lane and pound the ball to the big guy. Karno appears to be more fluid and potent as the season progresses. Besides the best free throw shooting night of his career, the bearded beast is exhibiting an awesome array of offensive moves heretofore unseen in previous seasons. The big guy is displaying mid-range jumpers, quick moves right to go along with his almost unstoppable left handed hook. Take notice NBA scouts.
Also of note, GU had one of their better offensive rebounding games of the season with 12 out of 32 total boards. They also had 8 or 9 blocks depending on which box score your reviewing. JWIII had an off night offensively, but dominated the glass with 11 rebounds. Jordan Matthews hit two late 3’s, hopefully breaking him out of his recent slump and Silas Melson was again spectacular off the bench adding 8 points and playing shut-down D.
The night started on a sour note as fans discovered freshman big extraordinaire Killian Tillie suffered a broken hand in yesterday’s practice and will be out for an undefined period. Bryan Alberts also suffered an ankle sprain and spent the evening wearing a boot. For glass half-full fans, these injuries could lead to more playing time for Rui and Jones but will more than likely result in a 7-man rotation.
At 27-0, an undefeated regular season is looking almost inevitable. The largest stumbling block will most likely be the 25 Feb Senior Night visit from BYU. The Cougars have two road wins at the Kennel the last two seasons and spoiled Senior Night two seasons ago handing GU their only WCC loss. That loss cost Gonzaga a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and, despite being undefeated to this point, another BYU loss could do the same. Thankfully BYU hasn’t been very good on the road the season. As for the Zags, they’ve been dominant everywhere, absolutely dominant.