The Gonzaga Bulldogs have some impressive offensive performers that Washington State likely made themselves very aware of in preparation for their game at midnight. Elias Harris and Robert Sacre are formidable frontcourt players while Marquise Carter is a jet-quick point guard who is more than willing to attack defenses. But if the Cougars had a plan for how to slow down freshman guard Kevin Pangos it sure didn't look like it. Pangos knocked down nine three pointers, tying the school record held by Dan Dickau (he did it twice) and scoring 33 points in an 89-81 victory that ended up being closer than it needed to be.
"We knew he was a very good shooter and he was a concern of ours when the game started," remarked Washington State head coach Ken Bone after the game.
The problem for Washington State defensively is that rarely was Pangos forced to take a hurried shot, and the majority of his threes that fell came without a hand in his face. Gonzaga rode the Canadian's hot shooting to a lead that would be as large as 21 points in the second half, but they had to hang on as Washington State fought back to within three points late in the second half. Harris (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Sacre (15 and 10) both posted double-doubles for Gonzaga and freshman Gary Bell Jr. added 14 points off the bench, and Gonzaga also held a 16-point edge (30-14) at the charity stripe.
Brock Motum led five Washington State players in double figures with 17 points, and Cougars shot 47.5% from the field. But they were outrebounded 41-33, and Gonzaga's edge of nearly eleven percentage points in the offensive rebounding percentage category (Gonzaga rebounded 37.8% of their misses to 27% for Wazzu) was a factor. Harris and Sacre combined for eight of Gonzaga's 14 offensive rebounds on the night, and keeping them off the boards proved to be a problem for a Washington State team that lacks bulk inside. That will need to improve, but the big news was Kevin Pangos putting future Gonzaga opponents on notice. If this becomes a habit, the Bulldogs become that much tougher to guard.
Other Notable Happenings
1. UCLA suspends Reeves Nelson indefinitely.
Already owning a loss on the season, things took another turn for Ben Howland's UCLA Bruins on Monday night as it was announced that he'd suspended forward Reeves Nelson indefinitely. The two were supposed to meet to talk things over on Monday but the coach instead made the move to suspend Nelson and delay the talk until after the Bruins play Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday. There have been attitude issues in regards to Nelson, who was a preseason All-Pac 12 selection and a player of the year candidate in the league. But it's tough to play at that level when not fully invested in what the coach wants done. This is just the latest happening in what could develop into a soap opera of sorts if the Bruins aren't careful. Better to try to handle these issues now, because the longer they're allowed to fester the more damaging the issues can be.
2. Florida State clamps down on UCF in the second half, winning by 23.
From an efficiency standpoint the UCF Knights haven't been at their best this season. But those numbers hit a new low on Monday night in Tallahassee as they ran into one of the toughest defenses in the country. Florida State limited UCF to 30.5% shooting from the field and an offensive efficiency of 72.5 in their 73-50 win over the Knights to move to 2-0. But it wasn't just Florida State's abilty to defend that did in the Knights. Florida State finished with a rebounding advantage of 46-31, with their 16 offensive rebounds helping to make up for 19 turnovers. Bernard James led four Seminoles in double figures with 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds, while Tristan Spurlock led the Knights with 12. UCF is a bit shorthanded with A.J. Rompza and Josh Crittle out of the lineup, but it likely wouldn't have mattered on Monday. FSU was that good defensively.
3. Northern Iowa can't make a shot in Moraga as Saint Mary's picks up the convincing win.
Northern Iowa put together one of the best defensive performances of the season to date this weekend in holding Old Dominion to 46 points on the road. But the tables were turned early Tuesday morning at Saint Mary's as the Panthers struggled mightily offensively and fell 57-41. It wasn't pretty for either team in the first half but the Gaels closed the half on a 14-2 run to lead 26-13 at the break. Things only got worse for the Panthers, especially Anthony James as he shot 1-for-15 from the field on the night. Matthew Dellavedova led Saint Mary's with 11 points but it was UNI's inability to score that provided the headline. UNI shot 27.1% from the field, making just 25% of their two-point shots. Can't win on the road shooting that poorly, especially at a place as tough to win in as Saint Mary's.
1. Don't underestimate Providence's 80-72 win at Fairfield in Ed Cooley's return to his previous employer. Rakim Sanders' second half foul trouble triggered a Friar run, and they ultimately held on. This is good win for a program still looking to build its foundation.
2. Temple picked up an important Big 5 victory, outlasting Penn 73-67 in overtime at the Palestra. Juan Fernandez's 19 points and five assists led the way as the Owls survived a 27-point effort from Penn's Zach Rosen.
3. UNLV led by 14 points with just over four minutes left in their game against rival Nevada but had to do everything in their power to get the 71-67 win. Justin Hawkins led a balanced scoring effort with 13 points and the Rebels assisted on 18 of their 26 field goals while also outrebounding the Wolf Pack 47-40.
4. In a game that could linger throughout the season George Mason fell to FIU 79-76 in overtime in the Blackburg regional of the Preseason NIT. Paul Hewitt's team thus allows a resume-building opportunity against Virginia Tech slip away as a result.
5. Eric Atkins and Joey Brooks scored 13 points apiece to lead Notre Dame to a 59-53 win over Detroit, with the game changing once the Titans' LaMarcus Lowe fouled out. Lowe finished the game with eight points, ten rebounds and five blocks but with him no longer in the middle things became easier for the Irish offensively.
Three Notable Performances
1. G Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
33 points (9-for-13 3PT) and six assists in the Bulldogs' 89-81 win over Washington State, tying Dan Dickau's school record for made threes in a game.
2. G Kyle Vinales (Central Connecticut State)
39 points (15-23 FG) in just 26 minutes of action for the Blue Devils, who lost 103-96 in overtime at Niagara. CCSU led by as much as 17 in the first half.
3. G Gerald Suero (Albany)
29 points (9-12 FG), nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in the Great Danes' 77-68 win over Brown.