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10 Observations from the USF game

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27-0!

NCAA Basketball: San Francisco at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

With NCAA President Mark Emmert in the house, the Zags took care of business and kept the perfect season going.

  1. We got some bad news on the injury front at the start of the game, as the team announced that Killian Tillie broke a bone in his hand during practice this week. No word yet on how much time he’ll miss, but that’s a tough blow. Bryan Alberts will also miss time with a severely rolled ankle. With postseason play just around the corner, these are definitely ill-timed injuries.
  2. Gonzaga came out flat during the first 10 minutes or so of the game. With Killian Tillie on the mend, they didn’t have their usual spark plug off the bench, but Silas stepped in to fill the role and made some key plays—including two 3s—to buoy the team until they found their footing.
  3. The key to playing against teams like USF that run a lot of Princeton offense actions is to not overplay ball denials, as doing so leaves you susceptible to backdoor cuts and easy layups. The Zags gave up some easy looks early as they got sucked in off penetration, but adjusted as the game wore on and did a better job of keeping their bodies positioned between their man and the basket.
  4. The Zags committed 6 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game, most of them of the unforced variety. It was no surprise that the scoreboard finally began to tilt in their favor once they started taking better care of the ball, committing only 1 turnover during the rest of the first half.
  5. Zach Collins flashed his athleticism on a strong drive from the elbow which drew a foul. He showed great quickness and strength on that play, and coupled with his polished skill level for his age you can see why he’s such an appealing NBA prospect.
  6. USF played a sagging 2-3 zone during the first half. The Dons chose not to extend their zone to the arc in order to deny entry passes into the paint, giving the Zags plenty of room on the perimeter to shoot and not making much of an effort to run them off the line. Consequently, Gonzaga had one of its best games from the three-point line in the last month (10-24)
  7. USF’s Jordan Ratinho impressed me a lot in the first game between these two teams, and showed some flashes again in this game. Just a freshman, I suspect we’ll see him have some big games in the future.
  8. Gonzaga’s energy and effort really improved after the break, which was evident with their defensive intensity. They held the Dons to just 26 points on 8-34 shooting in the second half, after the Dons shot 50% in the first half.
  9. USF tried to take away driving lanes for Nigel Williams-Goss, repeatedly going underneath screens or letting him shoot over the top of the defense. After he scored 36 points on them in the first meeting, you think they would try a different approach and force him to give up the ball. Instead, they got hit with another 30-point outing for NWG despite him sitting down for good with 5 minutes left in the game. I wonder what his stats would look like if he got to play USF every game.
  10. Josh Perkins hit a deep 3 early, and Jordan Mathews drew a nice and-1 play on a tough finish at the rim, but both guards were pretty quiet again on the offensive end. Mathews has only hit double-figure scoring in three of the last 10 games; Perkins only twice in the last 11. The Zags will need both of those guys to get going in order to make a deep tournament run.