Day after Illinois
Probably should have renamed this one the day-after Brandon Paul post. Or Paul Brandon, as he was referred to(not by me!) a couple years ago in a previous GU-Illinois matchup. Interesting night at the Kennel as the Illinois guards got the better of Gonzaga's and the Zags probably didn't exploit their interior advantage as much as they would have liked, particularly in the second half.
The result: Illinois remained unbeaten with an 85-74 victory over previously unbeaten Gonzaga.
Read on for more.
—I watched the replay last night and several parts again this morning with two topics in mind: How did Paul torch Gonzaga’s defense and how did the Zags commit so many first-half turnovers?
GU opened in zone, trapping as soon as
That’s when Paul truly really heated up. He went to work on several GU defenders, primarily
When Dranginis entered for his brief stint, Paul took him off the bounce and, when the freshman was off balance, forced contact to draw the foul. When defended by Pangos, Paul did roughly the same thing, taking the smaller guard off the dribble and drawing another foul.
Gonzaga tried switching on screens and on one play that left Olynyk on the perimeter, facing Paul, who was whistled for a ball-handling (carrying) turnover. Later in the game, though, Paul drove past Olynyk for a layup. He also drove on Elias Harris, drawing a foul, despite Przemek Karnowski arriving in help defense.
Paul did damage with his five 3s, but the majority of GU’s problem was it simply couldn’t contain him – or Tracy Abrams, for that matter – off the dribble. Paul (and Abrams, to a lesser degree) was athletic enough to finish at the rim (even against bigs), draw the foul, or kick it out to shooters (Paul three assists, Abrams five).
“He’s definitely going to be an NBA player,” Hart said. “He has everything you need: athletic ability, skill, a really great stroke and he showed it all tonight.
“It broke down to us getting broken down off the dribble and then (
That’s the book on
—As for the turnovers, it was a mixed bag, but much of it was the result of
Gonzaga made everything it looked at for most of the first half, but 12 turnovers prevented GU from building a 10-12 lead at intermission. Instead, it was tied and there was a feeling
“Turnovers hurt us in the first half,” Few said. “I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball (in the second half). In the first half we were pretty amped up, making some crazy plays.
—It’s been an interesting stretch for Pangos, who was just 2 of 12 from the field vs. WSU, but hit the game-winner with 2.2 seconds left. He was just 3 of 11 vs.
“We got a good win at
“I didn’t shoot the ball well in two games,” Pangos said. “I’ll just get some rest and get back in the gym. As I said after WSU, it’s not the first time that’s happened. I wanted to do more to help my teammates because it’s about the team in the end.”
STATS OF NOTE
—Of GU’s 16 turnovers, 13 were committed by forwards/posts (Olynyk 6, Harris 3, Edi 3, Dower 1). Olynyk has played extremely well, but he also leads GU in turnovers per game (2.71) by a large margin.
—Dower, still bothered by the flu, was limited to three minutes. His energy was clearly drained after fighting the bug for five days.
—Harris has scored in double figures in all nine games he’s played. His lowest output is 11 points.
—Three-point shooting by GU’s opponents last four games: LCSC 8 of 22, 36.4%; Pacific 10 of 19, 52.6%; WSU 10 of 27, 37%;
—Four of GU’s five starters logged at least 33 minutes. Pangos played a team-high 35 minutes and didn’t commit a turnover.
—Karnowski was active in his nine minutes, finishing with nine points, two boards, an assist and a blocked shot.
—GU had a good day at the FT line, making 21 of 27 (77.8 percent) after making just 53 percent against WSU.
—If my math is correct, only 14 unbeatens remain.
Few: “It’s a long season. It’s the first week of December and we have got to get better. We have to take any game we play, whether it’s the one in
Groce: “I learned and reconfirmed what I knew about them and that is that we are pretty resilient. This is the second time that we have been in this situation at the start of a game where we have gotten knocked in the mouth, I mean popped in the mouth big time.
Groce, on changing strategies: “More belief in what we were doing. We didn’t change a whole lot, other than we started to play a little more. We mixed in some zone. They got it high-low a couple of times against the zone there, but you have to pick your poison with them.”
Pangos on Paul: “He’s smooth, he has some good moves, he can shoot the 3 from deep as well as attack the rim. He’s a hard cover because he can do a bunch of different things. … He hit some pretty big shots, but it’s also tough to focus on one guy when they have a lot of great shooters out there.”