Day after BYU

Gonzaga's Elias Harris (20) grabs one of his team-leading 10 rebounds from BYU's Josh Sharp (12) during the first half. (Colin Mulvany)

Back with my day-after BYU post following Gonzaga's 83-63 win over the Cougars at the MAC last night. These two programs are used to winning, but they can't seem to play a close game against each other. GU has won three straight, by 11, 19 and 20. BYU won the two before that, by 22 and 10.

Gonzaga was sharp at both ends of the floor, save for 19 turnovers, to keep its WCC record unblemished at 5-0.

The lnks: Game stories from The S-R, A.P. Tacoma News Tribune, Salt Lake Tribune (sidebar here),Daily Herald and Deseret News. S-R photo gallery here.

By the way, GU president Thayne McCulloh's halftime announcement centered on a proposed four-story university center.

One other item: Several sources say that the WCC has re-upped with the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas as the site of the conference's men's and women's tournaments. It's a multi-year deal — my guess is three years, as it was in the previous contract that was set to expire after the 2013 event in March. The WCC explored a few other options — KeyArena in Seattle was one — but the tournaments have been a hit at the Orleans since arriving in 2009.

 Read on.

 


—Let’s begin with Gonzaga’s defense, which was outstanding in the first half and pretty good in the second. The Zags successfully forced Tyler Haws (21.6 ppg) and Brandon Davies (18) into taking tough, contested shots. Haws was 0 for 9 from the field and scored 1 point. Davies heated up some in the second half, finishing with 14 points, but many of his points came after the issue was decided.

Gary (Bell) worked his tail off (guarding Haws), but he had help,” coach Mark Few said. “We switched a couple times, we had some doubles in there.”

Harris, not known for his defensive prowess, did a nice job on Davies, also with some help, in the first half.

“Defense is a team, not just one person,” Harris said. “Gary guarded (Haws) great, but he also had other guys helping him. Same with Davies. I had other guys helping me out to control him.”

One sequence late in the first half illustrated Harris’ point. BYU had the ball and an away-from-the-ball screen freed Haws from Bell temporarily. Harris picked up the BYU guard through the lane, then passed him off to Kelly Olynyk after running into a screener on the low block. Olynyk denied Haws the ball on the wing, 25 feet from the hoop, batting away one pass.

Haws reversed course, ran the baseline again and this time Olynyk got screened on the opposite block. Bell immediately popped out and Haws again was denied on the wing. Eventually Davies caught a pass about 12 feet from the hoop near the baseline. Harris didn’t fall for a pump fake and closed off Davies’ baseline drive. Kevin Pangos dropped down to double team and Davies traveled trying to split the two defenders. Team defense.

—What happened next epitomized Harris’ night. At the other end of the floor, he grabbed a rebound in heavy traffic while his jersey was being yanked by a defender (ala a defensive back grabbing the uniform of a wide receiver breaking open). Harris gathered and went up for a layup, leaving a frustrated Josh Sharp no alternative but to offer a gentle two-hand push in Harris’ back for a foul.

“When he (Harris) is amped up and flying around, instead of kind of frozen and thinking (too much), we’re at our best,” Few said.

—There was no lasting residue from Gonzaga’s painful last-second loss to Butler. The Zags zoomed in front 11-3 in the first 2:15.

David Stockton and Kelly Olynyk, the players involved in the inbound pass that went awry in the closing seconds, had no trouble moving forward. Stockton had three assists and four points, two coming on a nifty runner in the lane, and three steals. Olynyk didn’t miss a shot – 9 of 9 FGs and 8 of 8 FTs – en route to 26 points, nine boards and five assists.

“We didn’t want to make one loss turn into two,” Olynyk said. “That can creep up on you sometimes.”

—The Zags continue to draw national attention. CBS has been in town for 3-4 days, with access to practices and the locker room immediately after the BYU game, for a segment that will run in February. Assistant coach Tommy Lloyd was mic’d up for Tuesday’s practice.

A USA Today reporter is in Spokane for an upcoming article.

—Guy Landry Edi can’t seem to catch a break. Shortly after he entered the game, he drove into the middle of the key and seemed to have a chance at a 7-foot shot. He hesitated, the defense swarmed and he was called for a 3-second violation. He was more aggressive a bit later when he grabbed an offensive rebound and powered up for a layup in traffic. However, on his way down court to play defense, he inadvertently stepped on Stockton’s foot and twisted his ankle.

Edi left the game, and the court to have his ankle looked at by the training staff. Edi returned for a short stint but appeared to be slowed by the injury. He said his ankle tightened up when he tried to play. He had ice on the ankle in the locker room.

—Gonzaga had 19 turnovers, three more than its previous season high. Many came when BYU extended the pressure in the variety of several zone defenses employed by coach Dave Rose. Pangos had five turnovers, Bell four and Olynyk three.

“They were doing a lot of different things,” Few said. “It’s hard to get rhythm against a 1-3-1 and at some point you have to step up and make a play. You have to be strong with the ball and attack. I thought the last 5-6 minutes we were unbelievable, especially when we have Kelly in there at the high post.”

Olynyk dissected the defense, scoring on a couple of 10-12 foot jumpers and handing out a pair of assists for easy layups.

—Mike Hart celebrated his birthday with five points, three rebounds and two assists. He doesn’t take a lot of 3-pointers, but he made his only attempt last night. He’s 7 of 12 from long distance (58.3 percent) this season.

Bell, who had just three shot attempts in the last two games, was much more assertive at the offensive end. He finished 2 of 10, 1 of 6 on 3s, but most were quality looks.

“The coaches wanted me to be more aggressive,” he said. “I just took my open shots and played within the offense.”

—Drew Barham is known for his perimeter shooting and Sam Dower is known for his scoring ability, but both impacted the game in other ways. Barham, who turned down an open 3 or two, made a nice cut to the basket and was rewarded with a layup. I recall him making a first-half steal, but it didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Dower didn’t score, but he had three rebounds and two blocks in a three-minute stint in the first half.

—For a few minutes, it looked like Gonzaga’s big first-half lead was going to give way to a tight finish, which is what happened in the Zags’ 83-78 win over Saint Mary’s a few weeks ago. There was no repeat against BYU, which pulled within 12 in the second half only to watch Gonzaga pull away.

STATS OF NOTE

—BYU’s 21-point first half was its lowest output in a half this season.

—Harris had 25 points, moving him past Jeff Brown (1,646 career points) into No. 8 on GU’s all-time list. Harris had 10 rebounds, bumping his career total to 860. That puts him fourth on the career list, just ahead of Ronny Turiaf’s 859.

—The Zags, outrebounded in four of the last five games, won the glass 37-29, though BYU had 14 offensive rebounds and a 13-12 in second-chance points.

—GU’s FT percentage continues to climb (71.9%) after a 19-of-23 effort vs. BYU. The Zags didn’t get to the FT line much in the last three games (18, 11 and 18), but they made frequent trips Thursday by getting the ball inside to Olynyk (8 of 8) and Harris (9 of 13). In fact, Stockton (2 of 2) was the only other player to attempt a free throw.

—Pangos made 4 of 8 3-pointers. He’s 25 of 49 (51 percent) from long distance in his last eight games and 43 percent for the season.

QUOTEBOOK

Harris: “Every dog has his day. Today was mine, and Kelly’s once again.”

Few, on Olynyk: “He was great, like he has been, tonight.”

Rose: “Defensively, we did a pretty good job of actually getting the shots early that we wanted them to take and getting them to miss but we had a hard time rebounding it. They did a great job on the offensive boards. But between Harris and Olynyk, they just had a fantastic game. They were really, really good.”

Rose, on BYU’s offense: “We struggled with their size and with how physical the game was early. We probably would have responded a little bit better if the way the game was called in the second half was called in the first half. We had 17 free throws in the second half and I think we shot four or five in the first half. That helped us get going a little bit. But that’s not the way it works.”

Pangos: “We shot pretty well percentage wise, we turned the ball over a lot, but defensively we were just flying around. We didn’t give them anything easy. Gary did such a good job on Haws and our bigs did a good job on Davies. We played defense as a unit. Haws gets his shots in a variety of ways, so it’s hard to stop one thing because he has so many tools. Gary was into him all night.”

Rose, on GU’s defense on Haws: “They did a good job guarding him and (they) sped him up. It was tough to get him the ball in spots where he’s comfortable. Every catch he made seemed to be in a spot where he was just a little bit out of the rhythm he likes. You have to give them credit. They did a good job and had a good game plan.”

 

Also in this section

GU handles BYU to remain in first

It was a one-two punch offensively with Kelly Olynyk (26 points) and Elias Harris …


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