LAHAINA, Hawaii – Gonzaga senior guard Matt Bouldin had a pretty reliable scouting report on Colorado’s basketball team. The native of Highlands Ranch, Colo., played pick-up ball with many of the Buffaloes during the summer.
“I know a bunch of them really well, all the way back to high school and grade school,” said Bouldin, who had 21 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in Gonzaga’s 76-72 victory over Colorado on Monday. “And I’ve formed some friendships with some of their new guys.”
Bouldin is buddies with forwards Austin Dufault and Casey Crawford and guards Levi Knutson and Dwight Thorne.
“I knew they were capable (of hot shooting),” Bouldin said of CU’s first-half success from beyond the 3-point line. “They came out guns-a-blazin’ and they were getting our bigs in uncomfortable situations (guarding on the perimeter).”
During his sophomore season at ThunderRidge High, Bouldin was offered a scholarship by former Colorado coach Ricardo Patton. Bouldin said he was already committed to Gonzaga when Jeff Bzdelik took over as Colorado’s head coach.
A big one
Gonzaga reserve wing Manny Arop only played three minutes and he only took one shot, but it was a big one. On a possession that appeared shaky, the 6-foot-5 freshman took a pass from Demetri Goodson near the baseline with the shot clock about to expire and hit a jump shot that pulled GU even at 59 with 6:49 left.
“That’s what you like to see from the young guys, the confidence to be able to go out and deliver in situations like that,” junior guard Steven Gray said.
Efforting a win
Bulldogs coach Mark Few didn’t sugarcoat his team’s effort, or lack thereof, in the first half as Colorado built a 40-29 lead.
“We were just getting beat to the ball; outhustled,” Few said. “They were hungrier. They were a team – I hate to use a sports cliché – but they seemed to want that game more the first 20 minutes. Again, it’s a great sign from my perspective, for our guys to get in at halftime and turn it around.”
There were numerous examples.
Gray dribbled into traffic and lost the ball, but got it back by diving on the floor and yanking it away from a Colorado player with 2:30 left. His hustle nearly resulted in a bucket, but freshman forward Elias Harris missed from close range.
Harris, who struggled for much of the game, made a diving save of a loose ball – and bowled over an ESPN cameraman in the process – under Gonzaga’s hoop, giving GU another possession. It resulted in Gray making 1 of 2 free throws and hiking Gonzaga’s lead to 70-67.
All five GU starters played at least 31 minutes. They’ll face a quick turnaround of roughly 28 hours before taking the court tonight. … Gonzaga continued its trend of white-knuckle finishes in Maui. The Zags last three games: A 109-106 triple-overtime win over Michigan State and a 65-63 loss to Connecticut in 2005 and Monday’s 76-72 victory. … The Bulldogs have made a living at the free-throw line this season. Gonzaga attempted 34 free throws against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, 38 vs. Mississippi Valley State and 37 against Colorado. GU had 21 free throws against Michigan State. Gray has made 23 of his team-high 28 attempts.
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