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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win at LMU

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Josh Perkins snapped a long drought and Johnathan Williams is approaching rare territory.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Pepperdine Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This will be a second-half centric observational recap, as I wasn’t able to catch the first 20 minutes, but it looks as if the first half was a fairly open affair for both squads. Doesn’t look like Gonzaga finished either half that well, but a dominant 8-minute stretch was all it needed:

  1. Great response from Gonzaga out of the break after closing the first half with a whimper. The Zags reeled off a 16-0 run (in 4 minutes) to take a 21-point lead and put the game away by the first media timeout of the second half. Gonzaga’s defense was aggressive in taking away penetration and with greater energy. Important to grab momentum and immediately extinguish any hope LMU might have felt like it had in the locker room.
  2. Zach Norvell could’ve destroyed LMU on a thunderous dunk around the 4-minute mark but couldn’t quite finish. He’s currently missing that last bit of explosiveness and power in his game, which is a physical goal he can work to improve upon in the offseason.
  3. Killian Tillie showcased textbook defense on a block of Eli Scott on the low block. Great footwork on his defensive slide to keep his man in front of him and hold his ground so as not to provide any sliver of space. His arms stayed straight up so he was in a natural position to block the shot attempt and he kept the ball in play to allow Melson to scoop it up and take it the other way.
  4. LMU is one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country (323rd prior to game) so its 8-14 performance from the arc (5-7 from Steven Haney) in the first half that helped keep the margin close wasn’t sustainable. The Lions inevitable regression struck in the second half, as they missed all six of their 3-point attempts (Haney was 0-2).
  5. As electric as Gonzaga played for the first eight minutes of the second half, its offense really ground to a halt the rest of the way. The Zags scored 24 points during the first eight minutes, and just 15 over the last twelve minutes. Part of that can be attributed to a bit of sloppiness as the Zags got a little ahead of themselves and push for a large blowout. But credit to LMU for not laying down and continuing to play hard despite getting blitzed at the start of the half.
  6. Josh Perkins notched the first double-digit assist game for Gonzaga since January 22, 2009, and he did it while only picking up one turnover. It’s really hard to be believe the Zags have gone 9 years since the last time it had a 10+ assist performance, especially when you consider the guys that have manned the point in that time. But it also tells how you how balanced Mark Few’s offensive system is and how good it is at avoiding having the burden placed on a single player to create for everyone else.
  7. Josh Perkins (12 points, 10 assists) and Johnathan Williams’ (30 points, 10 rebounds) dual double-doubles is only the seventh such occurrence for Gonzaga over the last 7 seasons. The other 6? Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis combined to do it twice (1/2/16 @USF; 12/14/15 v Saint Martin’s), Angel Nunez/Kyle Wiltjer (11/22/14 v. St Thomas Aquinas) and Przemek Karnowski/Sabonis each did it once (1/29/15 v Portland), and then Elias Harris and Rob Sacre did it twice (1/21/12 v. San Diego; 11/14/11 v. Washington St.).
  8. Norvell jussstttttt missed out on a double-double on his own when Tillie robbed him of a rebound at the very end of the game. Norvell was very much aware that he only needed one more board and was hunting for it. After realizing what happened, it looked like Tillie signaled to the stat keeper to give Norvell credit for the last board. Nice try, but Gonzaga will have to wait a little longer for its first trio to hit a double-double in a single game (at least for the 7 years that are in the Sports Reference database).
  9. Johnathan Williams had a monster game, and picked up his second 30/10 game of the season. After a string of relatively subpar games, it was nice to see him put together a dominant performance. If he can pick up one more 30/10 game, he’ll surpass Wiltjer and Sabonis (each had a pair of 30/10 games during the 2015-16 season) to have the most in a single season (going back over the last 7 years).
  10. Gonzaga owns LA. It has now won 34 consecutive games against Pepperdine and 17 straight against LMU.