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10 Observations from the BYU game


NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Brigham Young Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

So much for the Zags not being battle tested. Thanks to our friends down in Provo, that narrative can now be put to bed.

  1. BYU loves to play fast but that’s a double-edged sword for them. They’re not very adept at playing under control at their pace. While creating extra possessions can help them get back into a game, which they threatened to do at points in the second half, it can also lead to them creating quite a hole for themselves to climb out of (first half).
  2. The first made three of the game for the Zags came from Silas Melson, who has really buoyed the team in that category over the last 5 games. While Josh Perkins shot well from distance, particularly in the first half, Gonzaga’s struggles from the arc continued as they finished 7-20 from three.
  3. Zach Collins had a strong performance against BYU. The box score indicates that he had a quiet night on the offensive end, but don’t be fooled. His impact was evident throughout the game. Collins was more than capable of locking up Eric Mika without any help, and was a disruptive presence all night in the paint (just ask TJ Haws) and on the glass.
  4. I think it’s safe to say BYU’s Nick Emery gets to play with a little too much freedom on both ends of the court. While he was reportedly sick entering the game, that shouldn’t affect his shot selection, and he went 1-6 on the night with several curious decisions mixed in there. Also, I’ve never seen a single player get away with more fouls than Emery did against Gonzaga. He could have easily fouled out three times over.
  5. Speaking of fouls, BYU continued its defensive approach that they used against Domantas Sabonis last season. That being hack away to their hearts content and dare the refs to call a foul on every single possession. Hack-a-Zag, anyone?
  6. While BYU was certainly getting their “money’s worth” on their hacks—both called and uncalled—throughout the game, this was the best defensive effort I’ve seen them give this season as they regularly forced the Zags deep into the shot clock. Sadly for them, all they had to show for it was a double digit deficit for most of the night and a Gonzaga shooting percentage near 50%.
  7. Johnathan Williams played with great energy throughout the night, routinely fighting through a tangle of BYU players on the boards, and matching the crowd’s intensity all evening. While he didn’t have a great night from the free throw stripe, he did a great job of getting there.
  8. Somehow, Nick Emery and TJ Haws managed to hit the top and bottom of the backboard on consecutive possessions with what can only be kindly referred to as “errant” shots.
  9. Outside of the first 4 minutes of the second half when things got a little scrambled, I thought the Zags showed great composure in this game. The crowd was certainly hostile, the refereeing was suboptimal at best, and the execution wasn’t always pretty. Despite all that, the Zags continuously made plays when they needed them.
  10. Nigel Williams-Goss does it all, as he literally and figuratively wiped the floor (popcorn, really??) against BYU en route to 33 points. Nigel exhibited no fear of the big moments in this game, and his 11 consecutive points in the middle of the second half kept the Cougars at arm’s length, and silenced the crowd. Competitors love games like this one, and you could see how much Nigel was enjoying himself at the Marriott Center.