Mark Few did say prior to the game that this would be a tough, grind it out type of contest and it turns out he was absolutely right. Nothing from this game will make either team's year end highlight reel as both squads struggled for a better part of the contest to put any type of consistent offensive performance together. In the end, Gonzaga's talent was just too much for the young Tigers to handle and the Bulldogs will advance to the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic as they beat Clemson by a score of 57-49.
The big news heading into this game was the return of Kelly Olynyk. The redshirt big man from Canada missed the first three games of the season due to rules violation and Mark Few decided to waste no time and started Olynyk. While he struggled early, Kelly turned this into a very positive performance for himself as he finished with 13 points on 5-9 shooting. He benefited greatly from some brilliant passing from his guards but Kelly looked like another piece to a very dangerous team. Physically, he looks like a different player from what he was prior to sitting out last season. He has some mass to throw around and didn't shy away from contact. He also flashed some nice skills from outside in this game.
In the second half, it was the play of two veterans that willed the Zags to an opening round victory. Elias Harris was excellent for a majority of the night as he was active on both ends of the floor. He finished just shy of a double double with 13 points and 9 rebounds. For Gonzaga fans, it is a very pleasant and welcome sight to see him pick up where he left off from last season. The other veteran who stepped up in the second stanza was David Stockton. The junior reserve point guard finished with 7 assists and, as Fran Fraschilla said, they were truly excellent assists that typically always resulted in layups by Harris, Olynyk, and other Zags.
While it is a bit concerning to see the Zags struggle so much offensively, the silver lining is that they were able to win a game over a power conference team when they dictated the tempo. The Zags played Clemson's brand of basketball and were still able to make enough plays to secure an eight point win.
Next up the Zags will take on Oklahoma in the second round of the Old Spice Classic. Tip off will be 4:30 PM pacific.