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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Santa Clara


NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Santa Clara D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

I woke up to -23 degree wind chills in Chicago today. Fortunately, the memory of Gonzaga’s complete demolition of Santa Clara served as an effective pick-me-up. :

  1. Josh Perkins scored 9 points in the first 10 minutes of the game (14 in the first half), and was masterful reading the defense off the ball screen all night long. He was getting into the paint with ease as Santa Clara opted to take away the screener and dared him to score. When he’s doing that and consistently making the right plays, there’s really no correct way to defend Gonzaga’s offense. That allowed him to establish his scoring rhythm and set up him up for an excellent night scoring and distributing the ball. This was the best game I’ve seen him play in his entire GU career.
  2. Strong effort from the Zags on the defensive end to front the post and force Santa Clara into playing a perimeter-based game. With the Broncos struggling to make clean entry passes or get penetration off the dribble, the Zags were able to consistently force low-percentage jump shots late in the shot clock during the early portions of the game.
  3. Corey Kispert has been dialed in over the last 3 games and is playing his best ball since the first three weeks of his freshman campaign last season.
  4. This was the second time this season that Gonzaga has held a WCC opponent under 40 points in a game (Pacific is the other one). That’s a feat that the Final Four team from 2016-17 didn’t even accomplish (that team did it in similarly dominant fashion on the road against San Diego in a 96-38 win). The Final Four team finished the season as the No. 1 team in defensive efficiency per KenPom. While the current squad hasn’t consistently reached those heights on the defensive end, games like this one suggest there is much more to be unlocked from this group.
  5. Gonzaga’s offense was near-perfect in the first half highlighted by 13 assists on 21 made shots and ZERO TURNOVERS. But, the defensive effort was masterful. The Zags drew three charges, forced three shot clock violations in the first half, and allowed very few quality shots.
  6. Every time the camera cut to Herb Sendek on the sideline, he had the thousand yard stare etched on his face. I almost felt bad for him.
  7. Even when Gonzaga was up by 45 points in the second half, guys were still crashing the offensive boards or hustling to take away Santa Clara’s passing lanes. That’s the type of focus and effort that earns you capital with a coaching staff.
  8. I really liked how quickly Gonzaga broke out in transition for the duration of the game. After a rebound or turnover, the Zags were immediately getting the ball up the floor and there were always multiple runners filling lanes.
  9. At the moment, Filip Petrusev’s defensive play on the block leaves a lot to be desired. But I’m optimistic that he will make big leaps after an offseason working on his body with GU strength and conditioning coach Travis Knight. The offensive skillset is much further along, but he’ll always be on a short leash if he doesn’t play with the physicality Mark Few is looking for.
  10. With only one game to focus on this week, that was the complete performance you want to see Gonzaga produce. This team is in a good place from a mental standpoint, and it was rewarded by breaking an NCAA record for most consecutive conference road wins (27) while simultaneously handing Santa Clara its worst loss in school history. Not a bad night of work. Here’s a bonus stat to put this win into perspective: