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Sun., Feb. 8, 2009, 5:40 p.m.

Day after Memphis

Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin has his shot rejected by Memphis forward Robert Dozier in the opening moments of the game, February 7, 2009, in the Spokane Arena. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin has his shot rejected by Memphis forward Robert Dozier in the opening moments of the game, February 7, 2009, in the Spokane Arena. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Been out of wireless range all day at one of my kid's activities, but back now with the day-after post following the Memphis Tigers' 68-50 dismantling of GU on Saturday night.

We'll start with the links: Here's my gamer, John Blanchette's column, the Seattle Times' Steve Kelley's column, the Memphis Commercial Appeal game story and replay.

Much more below.

--On Gonzaga’s first offensive possession, Matt Bouldin cut down the lane, caught a pass and had his layup rejected by Robert Dozier. A couple minutes later, Bouldin had an open look at a 3-pointer but missed.

It was a tough night for virtually every Bulldog, including Bouldin, who averaged 16.8 points in January. He was 0 of 3 in the first half and just 2 of 9 for the game. He didn’t score his first point until six minutes were gone in the second half. His first basket came two minutes later.

Bouldin had trouble getting free from 6-6 Antonio Anderson.

“He’s a great defender,” Bouldin said. “He was up in me, away from the ball. There’d be a ball screen over there and he’s up in me. I just couldn’t get in the flow.”

Said Anderson: “He’s a great player, strong, can shoot and drive. I just tried to keep the ball out of his hands. He was maybe a little (frustrated). He wanted the ball, I was denying him. They weren’t passing to him and when they did pass to him they threw it out of bounds. He’s a great player. He’ll bounce back.”

Later in the first half, Bouldin posted up and missed from close range. Gonzaga got the ball back and Austin Daye missed a jump hook. Even when GU got good looks, it rarely connected.

“They were dialed into the things we did, they guarded everyone well as far as taking away our strengths. They came out and played their tails off,” GU’s Steven Gray said. “They were clogging up the lanes. That’s when we have to go to other things – curls, playing off down screens and ball movement. That’s an adjustment we’ll have to make.”

--Bouldin, by the way, finished with six points, leaving him one short of 1,000 for his career.

--Reserve center Robert Sacre (foot) said there’s an outside chance he could begin practicing (no contact) at the end of this week. He said he feels some discomfort in his foot, but that’s probably due to inactivity. He said he wants to be cautious and smart in deciding if he’ll be able to play again this season.

Head coach Mark Few said earlier in the week that if Sacre does return to practice, it would have to be determined whether he can play at or near the level he displayed before he was hurt in December. At that time, Sacre was playing quality minutes, between 6-11 per game, rebounding well and chipped in 15 points in 44 total minutes.

--Gonzaga’s starting five, outstanding against Portland in scoring 91 of the 93 points, was ineffective against the Tigers, whose length, strength, height and quickness bothered GU at every turn. The Bulldogs made only 36.7 percent – second only to a 35.5 percent night against Utah.

Josh Heytvelt had eight of his 11 points in the second half, four early on and the other four in the middle of GU’s late comeback. He was the lone starter to reach double figures. Austin Daye and Bouldin each had six points, Gray five – his only field goal was in the first 45 seconds. Jeremy Pargo was 1 of 6 and scored just two points.

“That definitely had a hand in it,” Daye said of the Tigers’ adhesive defense.

As tough as things were on the offensive end, the first five didn’t fare much better on the defensive end. Freshman point guard Tyreke Evans had 14 of his 22 points in the first half and at least three assists (though he was credited for just two). He had a couple of nifty passes go unrewarded because his teammates weren’t ready or couldn’t finish inside.

When he wasn’t penetrating, Evans was knocking down 3s (three of them in the first half). A 30-percent shooter on 3s coming in, he finished 3 of 6, including a fortunate kiss off the glass on a 21-foot bank shot.  

“He played extremely well,” Anderson said of Evans. “He calms things down. He just plays basketball. He doesn’t force anything.”

Memphis, which came in shooting 66 percent at the free-throw line, hit 15 of 19 (78.9). Evans, 70-percent free-thrower made 7 of 8 at the stripe.

“We definitely had a big letdown on the defensive end, and with turnovers and to get outrebounded like that … it’s inevitable what’s going to happen,” Daye said.

“They were just hitting shots, it wasn’t like they were tough shots,” Bouldin said. “We definitely weren’t doing what we usually do on defense. We just didn’t have it.”

Memphis made 44.2 percent for the game against GU, which came in leading the country in field-goal percentage defense.

--While the starters struggled, Gonzaga’s bench provided a bit of a spark. Micah Downs had 10 first-half points on 3 of 3 shooting (2 of 2 on 3s) and 2 of 2 at the free-throw line. In the second half, Few benched Bouldin, Pargo and Daye and went with Demetri Goodson, Ira Brown and Downs, as well as Heytvelt and Gray.

“They brought us a lot of energy, caused turnovers, ‘Meech’ (Goodson) was attacking,” Daye said. “They did a great job. The starters and the ones coach counts on, we didn’t do that. We just didn’t bring a lot of energy.”

Downs finished with 13 points in 29 minutes. He made 4 of 5 shots. Brown had a three-point play with 1:26 left to pull GU within 62-50. Goodson had a couple of baskets in Gonzaga’s 13-0 run. He also two assists in the second half.

“I was just trying to pick up in man defense, trying to fly around and make things happen, instead of playing timid like we did in the first half,” Goodson said.

--GU’s 23 points was its lowest scoring half since trailing WSU 28-17 on Dec. 5, 2007. The 17-point halftime deficit was the largest since the Bulldogs fell behind 60-26 at Virginia on Jan. 3, 2007.

--Gonzaga had no explanation for why it came out passively and without much fire.

“We’ve been practicing hard,” Downs said. “We’ve been trying to get mentally prepared, but we came out sluggish. There’s nothing we can do about it, we just have to go out and take care of the rest of the league.

“They’re a good team, athletic, big. It’s not that we didn’t have it; we just didn’t bring what we have. We didn’t play hard enough. They played harder than us.”

--Memphis coach John Calipari was in constant motion from the opening tip. He rarely let up on the officials – or his players, for that matter.

At one point in the second half, Calipari got in Evans’ face after a sloppy possession: “You’re acting like this is an AAU game,” Calipari told his standout point guard.


Bouldin on Memphis’ defense: “They came at us from the get-go, forced us out of all our sets. We definitely weren’t tough with the ball.”

Anderson on winning easy compared to the tight contests with GU the previous three years: “The last three times were all under 10 points. We got off to a hot start and didn’t look back. They tried to come back and we just denied it.”

Goodson on the lopsided defeat: “It’s always disappointing to play like that on such a big stage. We just came out sluggish and they got a big lead. We could never get it down to 10 or 8.”

Few on Memphis taking control from the start: “They got after us and took it to us on the glass, their defense to our offense. They were getting a lot better shots than we were because of their execution against our defense. It ends up with a game like that, if you’re not fighting and we weren’t putting up much of a fight until the end.”

Downs on if the Tigers present different challenges than some of the other highly-rated teams GU has faced this season: “They are long and get in passing lanes, but we can’t let that affect us. We’ve played teams like that, like Tennessee, they’re big and long. We didn’t let that affect us (in those games). We just kind of came out soft and timid.”

Dozier on Memphis’ swarming defense: “Everywhere they went it seemed like we got a hand on the ball, knocked it away or we jumped at them and they turned it over. If was working to perfection in the first half.”

Gray on Gonzaga’s ability to bounce back: “Last time something like this happened, we went on our little slide. That has to be in the back of our minds, trying not to repeat what we did earlier in the year. I think we’re more prepared to bounce back and handle business getting back into conference.”


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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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