Melson knocking down one of his four (of 7) threes.
Most everyone had a positive game, including third-string Connor Griffin who might get ZagSlam honors if I can find the video.
UPDATE: I found the video in slow motion, courtesy of some guy named John Mantello sitting on the baseline. Angel Nunez made a heads up pass at close range, then Griffin finished strong with the determination of a sophomore who didn't want to be embarrassed after he realized he was committed to the dunk. He ultimately did the embarrassing. ZAGSLAMMED: Pacific.
The only person who regressed a bit was Domantas Sabonis. His productivity was still very high (10 and 8 on 3/4 FG), but he picked up 3 fouls in 23 minutes of very heated play. A common theme in my coverage of Sabonis since the Arizona game is that he's an athletic beast, but he's also very hot-headed. He plays aggressive to the basket, which is good, but it also means a lot of contact, especially when defenses resort to contact for want of better defensive footwork.
This means he gets fouled... a lot. That's the life of a really productive post player. When defenses can't figure out how to stop you, they foul you hard. Przemek Karnowski knows this all too well. But when the refs are allowing contact, Sabonis starts taking it out on his man, and his man (if he's smart enough to realize it) starts to get under his skin. Pacific's bench forward Jacob Lampkin saw minutes for precisely this reason, playing 24 minutes to Sabonis' 23, when Lampkin averages less than 18.
Sabonis pulling down a board with Lampkin fighting for it. The two
had to be separated after a little youthful grandstanding.
You may ask what's wrong with a little contact? Especially when he's still producing? Actually nothing if it's against a WCC softy like Pacific. But when we get to real competition, two things:
1. Fouls = Points: Good teams hit free throws, and in a close game, an unnecessary foul is a game-decider if it sends a close game into the bonus or double-bonus, or worse hands over an and-1. A derivative is that we need Sabonis' physical presence and heady post play to beat good teams, so he needs to stay out of foul trouble, and stay on the floor.
2. One Hot Head Heats the Team: Sabonis boiled over when Lampkin tied up the ball on a rebound. A bit of post-whistle writhing for the ball and a back-hand to the chest and the refs finally stepped in and separated the two. But it didn't end there. Gary Bell Jr. (13, 2, 2 on 5/7 in 23 minutes) gave Lampkin a chest bump. Nobody saw it that time, and I like that our guys feel enough brotherhood to back each other up, but it could prove to be a dangerous trend. It gets valuable guys like Bell Jr. (in this case a perimeter scorer and our top defensive guard) teed up. Remember that Bell Jr. was a key player in big wins like our tournament game over Oklahoma State where he was a defensive lock on Marcus Smart. Sabonis' hot head may have nuanced but critical consequences, and he will hopefully mature a bit before we see any real damage.
Sabonis' testosterone level was maturing quickly in the last few games, and his game is already there, with nowhere to go but up. This was probably just a hick-up the progress. Getting hacked is part of the life of a go getta, big man. Keep cool and play your game.
... And there were a lot. Aside from the 31-point devastation we sent Pacific home with, the Zags showed some positive signs that will translate to wins against meaningful competition. First, we played a very balanced game, scoring 45 points in the first half, and 46 points in the second. This is the stuff of a machine-like offense, even John Calipari, running his hailed "platoon system" of fresh legs hasn't been able to achieve.
Box Score courtesy of ESPN.com98
Second, Senior Kevin Pangos is setting some assists and three-point records to decorate an already special career.
Pangos on the Verge of History
Pangos tied the record for all-time 3 pointers by a Zag, his next 3 setting it. He attempted a few more, each time getting the crowd screaming and on their feet, but failed to connect. With a sub-30 point lead in hand, Coach Mark Few sat him with time remaining, ignoring Zombie Nation's chanting "we want Kevin," so that they could witness the record. The next two games are at home against Portland, then Memphis, so it's inevitable and fitting that he'll set the record in the Kennel. Watch this Thursday (January 29th) to hopefully witness it.
Pangos and his really great hair mercilessly beating Pacific.
Last, pinch yourself. The Zags we love so much are on track for a 30-1 regular season. We still have a stubborn Santa Clara team and the Brad Waldo-led Gaels to play on the road, but either way, this is a really special Zags team. Don't let it pass you by.