Perfection doesn’t usually last all that long in college basketball. Certainly not for almost 12 minutes in a game between two Division I schools.
But Gonzaga did just that Friday night, hitting its first 15 shots from the floor en route to a 30-point lead and, ultimately, a record- breaking 101-40 victory over the University of Denver at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
And if the Zags were not perfect on defense, they were close, especially at the beginning. As were the KHQ broadcast team of Sam Adams and Richard Fox.
What they saw …
• Fox is usually just half of the analyst team for Gonzaga home games, pairing with Dan Dickau next to usual play-by-play voice Greg Heister. But with both those partners working other games Friday, Fox teamed with Adams, KHQ’s director of sports.
It was a good match.
Adams interjected his usual humor into the play-by-play, what with the game decided before Gonzaga missed a shot.
And Fox explained it all.
When Rui Hachimura hammered home an in-traffic dunk, Fox said, “That’s what a professional basketball player looks like, Sam, in case you were wondering.”
“I feel like I’m watching the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals,” Adams responded.
Though the analogy may have sounded more disparaging than Adams meant – the Generals lose on purpose, of course – the mismatch was as great.
Gonzaga shot 84.6 percent from the floor, a school record, in the first 20 minutes. The Zags hit 6 of 8 3-pointers, had 13 assists on 22 makes and won the rebound battle 17-11.
“In that first half, the ball just never stuck,” Fox said in the postgame. “It just kept moving. And it’s so difficult to guard Gonzaga when the ball does that.
“It was just a fabulous performance offensively.”
Adams quoted a pregame comment from Gonzaga assistant Brian Michaelson, saying this is the best offense the school has had. It certainly looked like it against the overmatched Pioneers throughout.
“That’s as good as it gets,” Adams said after the 61-point win, a school record.
“This is a nice way to go home for the holidays,” Fox said.
• The first-half offense was so efficient, it overpowered, at least on the surface, the locked-in defense. But Fox, who is a real estate broker in real life and does the color commentary as a secondary gig, didn’t miss it.
“This is about as good a defensive effort for Gonzaga on that end of the floor,” this year, Fox said as the Bulldogs (11-2) were holding Denver to 21.4 percent shooting before intermission. “Just a fabulous performance defensively this first half.”
Before the game, Fox had pointed out how well the Pioneers could shoot the 3-pointer, having converted more than 40 percent in their five wins.
“It will be critical for Gonzaga they run these shooters off the 3-point line,” Fox said.
The Zags did. Denver shot 11.1 percent from long range the first 20 minutes.
Twice either Hachimura, who finished with 23 points, or Brandon Clarke, who matched that total, stole the reversal pass and either were fouled or dunked on the other end.
Fox talked about the bigs’ ability to deny that pass, but didn’t mention the Pioneers run a similar ball-screen offense as Gonzaga, which means the Zags are familiar with it.
The Zags’ defense was so locked in, it forced at least a trio of shot clock violations as part of Denver’s 15 turnovers.
What we saw …
• After the first media timeout, KHQ showed file footage of the only other time these two schools met, in 2003. Gonzaga won 90-58
Current Denver coach Rodney Billups, Fox, radio analyst Adam Morrison and GU director of operations Stephen Gentry were all were shown in the video. But two other Spokane high school graduates, Denver’s Erik Benzel, the Pioneers’ leading scorer with 13, and GU’s Sean Mallon, teammates at Ferris High, weren’t mentioned.
• There was a rare visitor to the Kennel for this one.
Veteran official Tom O’Neill, who has worked a couple of national title games and as many NCAA Tournament games as just about anyone, usually works games east of the Rockies. But college basketball officials aren’t as wedded to one conference as they once were, allowing the better officials, as O’Neill is, to work games in different venues.
Follow along with the Zags
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