After a career-high 11 assists in Gonzaga’s 104-67 win over Texas Southern University on Saturday night in the McCarthey Athletic Center, Josh Perkins is only three assists away from 500 in his career.
“It is really cool, but I don’t really pay attention to that stuff,” Perkins said. “Right now, I am just looking forward to getting better and pushing my guys to be their best because at the end of the day, I want to win a championship.”
When he reaches the milestone, the redshirt senior will become only the sixth Zag to achieve the feat.
“He was brilliant tonight,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “He played on the run and when he does that, he’s pretty special.
“He was like that in the Michigan State scrimmage and obviously he can shoot the ball, too.”
After averaging 5.3 assists last season, Perkins has dished out 19 in the first two games this year, an average of 9.5. It’s early, but promising for the Zags’ offense nonetheless.
“I’m lucky I have all these weapons in this locker room, tremendous players, tremendous dudes, and to be the point guard of this team, I have no complaints,” Perkins said.
His 11 assists were the most by a Zags player since Jeremy Pargo had 11 in a game in 2007.
“He is big time,” Perkins said of Pargo. “He is one of the key reasons why I am here. For my name to be up there with him is a tremendous accomplishment. I have never really been in it for the individual accomplishments, so for that to happen, it happened, but at the end of the day, I am happy we won as a team.”
Two of his assists ended up in Brandon Clarke’s hands for alley-oops, including one that he let go of while falling toward the sideline.
“(Perkins) is just surrounded with a bunch of guys who can shoot and athletic dudes who can run to the rim. So the floor is spread and when he plays on the ground and isn’t overdribbling and trying to do too much, he’s pretty special,” Few said.
But Perkins’ court vision isn’t the only valuable trait he offers the Zags. His scoring prowess is known, but it’s his veteran leadership that sets him apart – and it isn’t even close.
He has played in 118 games in his career after Saturday and Rui Hachimura is a distant second with 67. After the offseason departure of Silas Melson, who appeared in 143 games, it was clear who the leader would be.
“‘Perk’ is a really experienced guard and really smart guard as well. We need him,” fellow guard Zach Norvell said. “He is always looking for others, but tonight he was able to put some points up on the board. Him being an experienced guard like that and also having a scoring background before he was here, so it was big time for us.”
Perkins has responded so far with two efficient performances, providing what his team needs from him on each night without any sloppy mistakes.
“It’s when he gets bored or tries to throw a little extra frosting on it, that’s when he gets in trouble,” Few said. “Tonight he just took what they gave him.”
The point guard finished with 19 points, 11 assists and four rebounds. He was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
Bulldogs pile up big numbers
Perkins wasn’t the only Bulldog on milestone alert.
Hachimura surpassed 550 career points with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Norvell exceeded 500 points with an eight-point performance.
“It’s pretty cool, coming off a redshirt year last year, having an up-and-down season, but ultimately I learned a lot this offseason, put in a lot of work and it is good to see it pay off,” Norvell said.
Norvell is also nine assists shy of 100 for his career.
Transfer Clarke, who was the most active player on the floor Saturday, secured 13 rebounds to go over 450 in his career.
Graduate transfer Geno Crandall is five rebounds away from 400, six steals from 200 and 13 assists away from 400.
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