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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Western Kentucky

Demetri Goodson and the greatest defensive substitution of all time.

NCAA Second Round: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers v Gonzaga Bulldogs Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The Gonzaga Bulldogs won their 11th straight game in dramatic fashion and survived an upset bid from the 12th seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers who were hoping to return to the Sweet for the second year in a row.

  1. Based on the way these offenses were performing, it’s no surprise that the team that had the ball last left the arena as the winners.
  2. The Hilltoppers failed to apply effective on-ball pressure to Jeremy Pargo in the halfcourt, which allowed Gonzaga to find an easy offensive rhythm to start the game and get comfortable. Pargo is too good to have time and space to break down a defense, and he took advantage of the freedom afforded to him.
  3. Orlando Mendez-Valdez. Come on, stop losing this man. There were far too many occurrences where a Zag was desperately trying to close out an open look for him. He made the Gonzaga defense look bad.
  4. While the Zags struggled to bottle up Mendez-Valdez, Matt Bouldin did the next best thing by sending him to the bench. Bouldin posted up on Mendez-Valdez on the opening possession of the second half and drew his third foul immediately. That was huge, and very clearly was a point of emphasis in the locker room during halftime.
  5. Austin Daye always looked like he was playing with half effort. Disappointing that he never unlocked his full potential.
  6. Micah Downs’ off-ball movement was pretty underrated. He knew where to be and how to make himself dangerous.
  7. Getting Mendez-Valdez into foul trouble wasn’t the only goal for the guard postups. Mark Few thought this was a worthy halftime adjustment as the second half saw a handful of guard post-ups to facilitate the offense from the low block in this matchup until WKU switched into a zone.
  8. Thank god Western Kentucky couldn’t make free throws (5-14).
  9. This Gonzaga team was so solid and played some beautiful offensive basketball. Shame they ran into a UNC buzzsaw in the Sweet 16.
  10. Mark Few’s late defensive substitution of Demetri Goodson in the final 24 seconds of the game is in the pantheon of greatest substitutions of all time. You couldn’t draw it up any better than that.