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TV Take: Gonzaga’s holiday feast included a few too many turnovers early

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, right, congratulates guard Jordan Mathews after a play during the second half of the Thanksgiving Day game against Quinnipiac at the AdvoCare Invitational tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Associated Press)
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, right, congratulates guard Jordan Mathews after a play during the second half of the Thanksgiving Day game against Quinnipiac at the AdvoCare Invitational tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Associated Press)

So what else is there to do on Thanksgiving afternoon besides watch a Gonzaga basketball game from Florida?

Eat a little bit? Sure. Catch some of the traditional holiday NFL game from Dallas? Maybe. Settle down for the John Wayne marathon on AMC? OK, that’s hard to resist.

But all of those took a backseat Thursday, though, if you are a Gonzaga fan. The Zags were on. Playing in a tournament in which they have never lost.

They still haven’t. And you didn’t have to miss a minute of GU’s 82-62 win over Quinnipiac in the AdvoCare Invitational thanks to ESPN2.

Well, maybe a minute or two when you got up to grab a piece of pumpkin pie, or a leftover roll, or maybe even an antacid tablet.

Because if you are a real Bulldog, you ate your family meal before the game.

And if you were stuck because your father-in-law doesn’t understand your Zag mania and how it could take precedence over the holiday meal, there was always the ESPN app on your phone.

Of course, you had to hold it under the table, with one-half of your headphones stuck in the ear facing away from the grump at the head.

Luckily, when Jordan Mathews hit his back-to-back 3s midway through the second half and finally put the Bobcats in the rearview mirror, you had the sense not to cheer.

It’s a dead giveway.

Which is something the Zags were doing early. The ESPN announcing crew of Mike Morgan, former UNC star Brad Daugherty and sideline reporter Andy Katz, seemed a bit shocked about that.

Heck, Daugherty’s first comment concerned the Zags not making mistakes on the offensive end. But it came while Josh Perkins, making his first start of the season, was getting his pocket picked, which led to Quinnipiac’s initial basket.

But it didn’t matter.

The 11th-ranked Zags had nine turnovers in the opening half, hit just one 3-pointer (in 10 attempts) and still led 37-29. The second half was much better, both in turnovers (six), 3-point shooting (5 of 12) and score.

There were other turnovers as well but they came from the broadcast crew.

When Zach Collins picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench, Morgan said it was his second. And when Killian Tillie hit a second-half 3-pointer, Morgan misidentified him as Collins, though he caught it quickly. On balance, though, the announcing trio had a better night than Quinnipiac.

Despite the easy win, GU’s fourth this season, there was a definite lack of energy – in the building, on the court and throughout the broadcast.

It may have be the traditional feast Daugherty admitted he over-indulged in before the game. Or it may have been the half-empty nature of the Disneyworld facility, a smallish arena that was still way too big for the holiday crowd.

Whatever, the Zags really didn’t get it going until late in the first half. Part of that was the lack of an outside threat.

Mathews didn’t play much before halftime, saddled with two fouls in the early going. He sat for a stretch, but with 7:43 before intermission and GU leading by four, Mark Few brought him back.

It didn’t help. Quinnipiac got within 26-25 and Mathews, Gonzaga’s leading 3-point shooter, picked up his third foul. In the backcourt. He sat until the second half.

Perkins, who shot better than 40 percent behind the arc last season, took up the slack. After a fastbreak dunk by Killian Tille, Perkins nailed the Zags’ first 3-pointer. A trio of stops later, GU led by 12.

The Bobcats tried to rally, but the back-to-back Mathews’ 3-pointers 8 minutes into the second half opened the floodgates.

And excited what was left of the crowd. To be honest, about the only place that seemed to have a lot of fans – on the broadcast, at least – was right behind the Gonzaga bench. The Zags always travel well and this holiday tournament is no exception.

The contingent should see a better game Friday evening, when the Zags will face the Florida/Seton Hall winner at 6:30 PST. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

Here’s a plan. Hit the sack early tonight, get up, shop and then get home in time for the game. Actually, get home in time for a nap, leftovers and then the game.

Makes for a perfect holiday Friday.

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