Josh Perkins picked up his 500th career assist and Zach Norvell piled on the points as the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated the Texas A&M Aggies, 94-71, on Thursday evening.
Despite the late start, and the semi-lackluster stature of this year Aggies, it was still exciting nonetheless as Gonzaga welcomed the first SEC opponent in school history into The Kennel. Or something like that, because we have to figure out what was causing the first half offensive jitters.
Things started out a little slow for the Zags. They shot just 4-of-15 from long range in the first half, and that is a bit deceiving considering Norvell drained two threes towards the end of the half. Gonzaga couldn’t seemingly buy a jump shot to save their lives, and Christian Mekowulu did just enough down low to harass the Zags into difficult post shots.
And yet, despite scoring 99% of their points five feet from the basket, and not scoring consecutive field goals until late, late in the half, the Zags still dropped 43 points on Texas A&M. The offense, when it didn’t seem to even be clicking that efficiently, still got the job done.
The Aggies tried their best. TJ Stark had 14 points at half, but once the second half opened up, there wasn’t going to be anything they could do. Rui Hachimura was doing his Rui Hachimura thing, scoring from every angle possible. Norvell turned red hot from beyond the arc, hitting a game high 22 points. Geno Crandall showed his range, finishing with 13 points, and Filip Petrusev added a quiet 10 points.
Gonzaga did everything right this game. When the offense was stuttering a bit, they relied on aggressive rebounding, courtesy of Brandon Clarke, and intense defense, highlight courtesy of Corey Kispert. Sometimes, when the offense isn’t working, you get the defense to jumpstart it.
We call this turning defense into offense. My goodness. pic.twitter.com/elQmSFhrkD— Fundamentally Sound (@FundamentallySD) November 16, 2018
Some other quick takeaways:
- The Zags ran a lot of zone tonight, and it looked great. A good test for the Maui Invitational.
- Perkins may have only scored seven points tonight, but six assists off of one turnover is exactly what we need to see from him. He now has 25 assists and three turnovers on the year.
- The Zags finished with 10 blocks on the night, three a piece from Clarke and Kispert. That total is a mixed bag, however. One one had, the interior defense made sure that Texas A&M had to fight tooth and nail for each drive to the hoop. On the other hand, TJ Starks in particular kept finding his way close. Against better finishers, things might have looked a little bit different.
- It was always a matter of if, not when, Geno Crandall hit his first long range shot. He looked much more comfortable in his uniform in the second half, and was able to provide some solid offense while Perkins got a breather on the bench.
- Speaking of threes, Rui also hit his first three pointer of the season. He demonstrated a deeper range over the summer, and it was largely the one aspect missing from his arsenal. If he can consistently drain a few long range shots, he will go from nearly impossible to defend to impossible to defend.
- Brandon Clarke is absurdly athletic. That guy hops into the screen like a jump scare in a horror flick.
- I know I am an old curmudgeon alum, but the Kennel Club chanting “UC Irvine” at Texas A&M was dumb as rocks. The Anteaters are a good squad who very well could win the Big West Conference this year. Do your homework and don’t act like that is a bad loss.
The now 3-0 Gonzaga Bulldogs squad will hop on a plane to hopefully a hotel with a working staff in it at the Maui Invitational, opening up against Illinois on Monday, Nov. 19.