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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

TV Take: Simon had to have his say as the Zags rout Washington

Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams (3) defends against a shot by Washington guard Markelle Fultz (20) during the first half of a NCAA men's basketball game, Wed., Dec. 7, 2016, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams (3) defends against a shot by Washington guard Markelle Fultz (20) during the first half of a NCAA men's basketball game, Wed., Dec. 7, 2016, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
A rivalry game, huh? More than likely when the ESPN announcing duo of Beth Mowins and Miles Simon found out they would be doing the renewal of Gonzaga’s series with Washington on Wednesday night, they didn’t suspect they would have to talk about everything but the game, which finished 98-71 in host GU’s favor. It was over early, maybe as early as the 22-2 run Gonzaga posted in the first 10 minutes of the game. But certainly by halftime. By then Mowins and Simon were searching for filler material. Of course they found it. Simon is a former NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, played guard for an Arizona national championship team and is locked into the AAU scene these days, so he has enough material – just about the Zags – to fill 10 blowouts. How much?
  • He pulled out pictures from his phone like a proud papa, showing NBA veteran Chris Bosh and Gonzaga’s Jordan Mathews working out together last summer in Southern California under the tutelage of, yes, Miles Simon.

  • He had video of Washington’s standout freshman point guard Markelle Fultz when he was a junior in high school. Dunking, of course.

  • And he had enough stories – about UCLA’s start, Saint Mary’s play and the best freshmen in the country, just to cite a few – to bridge the time between Washington’s missed shots. OK, that’s not saying all that much as the Huskies missed 55 of them – or about one every 44 seconds or so.
Maybe that’s why less than 9 minutes into the game, Simon said “everything is too easy for the Zags.” By then Gonzaga was up 27-6 and Lorenzo Romar was probably trying to figure out how to justify another 10-year hiatus in the series. His players certainly seemed to have checked out. With about 18 minutes left in the second half and the Zags up 51-27, Przemek Karnowski beat every UW player down the court and dunked. Now remember, Karnowski isn’t a guard. He’s not even a power forward. He’s a 7-foot, 305-pound center. No wonder Simon followed up the dunk with a “that’s embarrassing if you are Washington” comment. As if the game up to that point hadn’t already served that purpose. Beside Fultz, who scored a game-high 25 points – taking 26 shots to get there while playing 37 minutes – no other Husky stood out – except on the offensive glass. With more than half a hundred misses, it’s little wonder they had a whole bunch of offensive rebounds. Still, 29 of them – the number Washington grabbed – probably isn’t something Mark Few liked to see. What the veteran Gonzaga coach must have liked, as Simon certainly did, was the play of Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss. Gonzaga’s junior point guard finished with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and added five assists and five rebounds. “He really played how a consummate point guard should play,” Simon said, “and how a leader should play.” Though by the time Simon made that comment, everyone’s play was a bit ragged. Gonzaga kept a 25-to-30 point lead much of the half – at one point Simon mentioned the Zags leading by 37 when it was actually 27, but in his defense, it seemed like 37 – and that led to some chippiness. And a whole heck of a lot of whistles. With 47 fouls called, it wouldn’t be surprising if one or two were missed. And there was a big one, when Zach Collins blocked Fultz’s dunk attempt with 6 minutes, 50 seconds to play. He was called for his fourth foul on a play the replay showed was all ball. “The official completely whiffed on that call,” Simon said and continued to harp on referee Glen Mayberry’s quick whistle, though he never mentioned Mayberry by name. But that was just a sideshow. The main event was the Zags’ rout in a series revival both schools’ fan had waited a decade to see.
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