Day after Memphis

A trio of Tigers couldn’t keep Bulldogs forward Domantas Sabonis from scoring in the first half on Saturday. (Tyler Tjomsland)
A trio of Tigers couldn’t keep Bulldogs forward Domantas Sabonis from scoring in the first half on Saturday. (Tyler Tjomsland)

I've got plans from 3-7 today so we'll get the day-after Memphis post out of the way early.

Here's my game story and the fine photography of the S-R's Tyler Tjomsland.

Read on.

--It was the kind of game that coaches don’t mind at all: A fairly easy win over an athletic opponent that provided numerous teaching points along the way. It was similar to victories over Georgia and St. John’s in NYC, although those two outcomes were much closer.

You can bet Gonzaga will be working on its press-break this week after the Zags had problems against the fast, rangy Tigers in the closing minutes. You can bet the Zags will be working on rebounding after the errant-shooting Tigers retrieved 19 of their 48 misses.

However, in the bigger picture, Gonzaga did what it’s done most of the season: Productive offense, quality shots on their non-turnover possessions, dominate in the lane, and hold the opponent under 40-percent shooting.

That was the tone of Mark Few’s post-game comments.

“A good win against a really good, athletic, dangerous and opportunistic team,” he said. “For the most part, I loved how we handled the physicality and athleticism of the game. We got a little sloppy at the end but that’s stuff we can address in practice.”

Few didn’t give GU a pass for the high number of turnovers (14) and Memphis’ offensive rebounds, but noted, “It’s not easy just functioning against that kind of quickness. That’s kind of what that team is built for.”

--It got a bit chippy at times.

Memphis coaches and players weren’t thrilled with the 24-14 disparity in foul calls. Tigers coach Josh Pastner blistered the ears of one of the three WCC officials when he called a foul from 40 feet away from a play near the rim. Pastner was dumbfounded when officials reversed a turnover call on a GU inbounds pass.

At one point, Memphis beat writer Jason Smith tweeted: “Pangos makes both FTs. 36-22, Zags, AND OH MY GOD THEY CALLED A FOUL ON GONZAGA?!?!? WTH IS WRONG WITH THESE OFFICIALS?

On the court, Kyle Dranginis and Trahson Burrell had a few moments of hand-fighting in the first half, but nothing you won’t see in most games. Dranginis and Markel Crawford got tangled up briefly under GU’s bucket in the second half and Crawford was hit with a technical foul.

“We were just trying to be aggressive,” Dranginis said. “I don’t really know why that guy got a ‘T’. He didn’t say anything, we just tangled up. Fun game to play in, the intensity and the crowd really helped us out.”

--Still not sure why Memphis didn’t dial up full-court pressure earlier in the game. I’m not exactly sure when the Tigers went to the press, but I believe GU was up by about 20.

Gonzaga had issues late against the long, quick-handed Tigers as its lead shrunk to 13. Until then, Gonzaga was able to run its offense pretty much as it wanted, feeding the post with little resistance, en route to a big lead.

If nothing else, the press might have sped GU up and forced guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. to expend more energy. Pangos logged 39 minutes and Bell was next with 30.

“I think if we would have started the press earlier … it kind of helped us towards the end,” Memphis forward Austin Nichols said, “but I’m just proud of my team for not quitting, not buckling.”

--Another benefit of scheduling an out-of-conference game midway through the WCC season: Memphis tried a new wrinkle with a triangle-and-two defense for a few possessions. It didn’t seem to bother the Zags.

“They tried it in the first half and second half for 2-3 possessions,” Few said. “We scored a layup, got a putback and Gary got a wide open 3.”

--Byron Wesley hobbled off after taking a fall near GU’s bench in the final minutes. He said later that he started cramping and it was nothing serious.


--Karnowski made his last five FTs and finished 9 of 12.

--Pangos, who broke the school’s all-time 3-point record Thursday, couldn’t find the range Saturday, going 0 of 5 from distance. His teammates made 8 of 13 3s.

--Dranginis had one of his best games of the season with 8 points (3 of 3 FG, 1 of 1 from 3, 1 of 1 FT, 1 rebound, 1 assists, 1 block, 2 steals, 0 turnovers in 16 minutes.) He’s averaging 6.2 points in the last four games after having three straight scoreless contests.

--GU was outrebounded (39-38) for just the second time this season.

--Sabonis had four of GU’s six offensive rebounds.

--Memphis attempted 27 more FGs than Gonzaga.

--The Tigers were 3-0 in three previous trips to Spokane. Those three games were played in the Arena.


Few on Karnowski’s FTs: “He was good tonight and wasn’t so good (2 of 6) Thursday. He’s trying, he’s working on it. He was better tonight and we needed them.”

Sabonis: “I was surprised they didn’t double team but when we’d get a rebound all of their guys come in and try to take the ball away. I think it’s great (to play well offensively). We wanted to play a team like this because they’re different from WCC teams and we did a good job with it.”

Wiltjer: “I think that should be our common theme all year. Nobody can really stop us with that size. We just wanted to keep battling in there.”

Bell: “I wish it would have been a little smoother at the end but we got the win. That’s all that matters.”

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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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