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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over UT Arlington

5-0 (barely)

Texas-Arlington v Gonzaga Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Let’s focus on the fact that Killian Tillie is back on the court and back in our lives, because the rest of Gonzaga’s game against UT Arlington was pretty much a train wreck. What’s that? 10 observations, you say? I’m so sorry, friends:

  1. It was great to see Killian Tillie back in action and back in the starting lineup. He celebrated his return by connecting on his first shot of the season, a three from the top of the arc, and his skillset should make life a lot easier for everyone on the floor (no sleight to Anton Watson)—results from this game notwithstanding. His presence massively improves the offensive spacing, and he adds a much needed rim protector at the defensive end. Now he just needs to be healthy for the remainder of the season.
  2. Gonzaga’s offense struggled mightily in the first half as UT-Arlington committed a lot of bodies to defending the interior and daring Gonzaga to beat it from outside. Despite adding Tillie’s shooting back into the lineup, the Zags couldn’t capitalize as they shot 3-15 from the arc in the first half. The backcourt, in particular, was incapable of getting anything going until Woolridge made back-to-back baskets (along with an icy staredown of the UT-Arlington bench, much to the disapproval of Mark Few) to close out the first half.
  3. I hate to complain about something I’m given for free, but the quality and reliability of The W/Stadium/WCC Sports stream has been absolutely atrocious this year. Based off my Twitter mentions, I wasn’t the only one stuck in buffering purgatory. It should not be this difficult to provide a reliable medium for fans to watch live sports in the year 2019. Preferably one where the audio and video are synced up!
  4. Despite entering the game 100% from the arc (5-5) on the season, Ryan Woolridge is going to be the guy that defenses sag off from the perimeter to add an extra defender in the post for now. Historically, Woolridge’s three-point shooting percentage hasn’t been particularly strong (35.7%, 30%, and 32.1% in the last three years) so it’s likely that we’ll see more teams opt for this plan in an effort to slow down Gonzaga’s interior attack until Woolridge consistently starts burning opponents. Woolridge took the Mavericks’ scheme personally, and we saw the response in his play.
  5. While the driving lanes were hard to come by with UT-Arlington endeavoring to take away the paint, the Zags did a poor job of getting to the free throw line to help out their icy shooting from the field. If the shots aren’t falling, you have to find a way to get to the charity stripe and help yourself out.
  6. For the first time this season, we had the chance to see Gonzaga face adversity. While it’s not at all ideal to be in a dogfight at home with UT-Arlington (better than we thought!), the Zags responded with the fight and attitude that they’ll need to have a successful season.
  7. Err, tough night for Corey Kispert. Make that a tough five days. This was the second game in a row where he was ice cold from the field, and he struggled to make much of a positive impact. There are a lot of scoring options on this team, but he’s a central figure in Mark Few’s plans for the season and someone with his level of experience and responsibility needs to be consistently productive and reliable.
  8. Anton Watson has to at least present a marginal threat from the three-point line. He hasn’t made a 3 yet this season, and didn’t even entertain the thought on a number of occasions during the game despite having acres of space.
  9. Give UT-Arlington credit for its defensive execution. The Mavericks made Gonzaga very uncomfortable, and consistently cut off driving lanes that forced shaky floaters or poor decision making. Coupled with some timely baskets along with a handful of low percentage shots that found their way to the bottom of the net for UT-A, you get whatever it is we saw on Tuesday night.
  10. 17-30 is a recipe for a bad time. As of this writing Gonzaga is ranked 239th in the country in free throw percentage, checking in at 66.4%. Poor free throw shooting has ruined the seasons of many, many talented teams over the years. The Zags need to get it together from the charity stripe or they’ll be joining that list.