The game started quickly with Gary bell scoring 10 and Kelly Olynyk netting 7, leading the Bulldogs to an early 23-14 lead. BYU would not go away however, as Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws kept the Cougars close all night. In fact despite never trailing the entire game, the most Gonzaga ever led by was 9 points.
The Zags were able to pull out the win tonight, even though according to the stats (except for the score obviously) they should have lost. Gonzaga was out rebounded 39-35, made less field goals, shot only 20% from arc, lost the offensive rebounding battle 13-7, shot a worse free throw percentage, and missed a total of 14 free throws (including a number of front ends of 1-and-1s).
The Zags should have lost due to strategy as well. BYU played 4 guards most of the night, and were constantly in foul trouble, but the Zags constantly settled for jumpers and shot only 6-30 from 3 point land. The cougars played a simple compact zone and Gonzaga didn't attack it like they needed to.
Pangos- Overall 6. I know this is a surprisingly high number for a player who shot 2-13 and hoisted up 12 3's, but he was doing it for the right reasons. He was trying to get them to stretch the defense. Should have fed the post more and tried driving at bigs that were in foul trouble.
Bell- Overall 8. Bell was our only threat from the outside and played solid defense to keep the Cougars to under 40% from the field. He has a great motor and ability to play hard for a solid 33 minutes.
Olynyk- Overall 8. It continues to be difficult to find a lot to blame Kelly for. He played tough and made smart plays when he got the ball. It would be nice to see him put a little more effort into rebounding, but ultimately KO was our go-to-guy.
Harris- Overall 8. Harris had great position all game long. Establish position low on offense, and put himself in great rebounding position on offense. Had a couple plays on offense where he forced it when it wasn't there and other times where he needed to drive it straight at the BYU big men in foul trouble, but overall played a solid game.
Hart- Player of the Game Overall 9. Did he make a silly play at the end of the game, yes. Did he miss every shot he took, yes. Did he have a team high in turnovers, yes. Somehow even after all that, Hart is the guy who stuck out in my mind as the reason we won this game. Hart played tough, physical defense with intensity. He set the tone with his play and put the game away with an athletic rebound at the end of the game. Below is a quote from an opposing coach about Hart's play.
“They're super physical. They've always been that way, but this particular group is off the charts in that aspect. Everyone wants to talk about [Kelly] Olynyk, but the guy who establishes that is Mike Hart. He's probably one of the most underrated players in the country. He doesn't turn it over. He is relentless, competitive, crashes the offensive glass at every opportunity. You've gotta account for him. He impacts the game in a lot of different ways. I think he's what makes them a title contender."
PK- Overall 4. Played just 3 minutes, and they were all early on in the game. Was afraid to really bang around with his body and was being out-hustled by the Cougars, Few rewarded him with some time on the bench.
Dower- Overall 7. Didn't miss a shot during the game, 3-3 FGs and 2-2 FTs, but was not playing smart on defense. Picked up 3 quick fouls, something that we can deal with this year, but if he is going to be a key player he will have to shore that up in the future.
Dranginis- Overall 8. For the life of me I could not figure out why Dranginis was pulled and why he did not play more. His length was causing problems for BYU on defense, he hit the only 3 he took, drew a foul DRIVING into the zone from the wing, and he did all of this in just four minutes. Should have hit his FTs, but so should a lot of players.
Barham- Overall 5. Strong rebounder, but Gonzaga sorely missed his 3-point shooting ability. Could have used his outside shot to help stretch the zone and keep them accountable. Was 0-3 from 3 point range.
Stockton- Overall 6. Played surprisingly well on defense and baited BYU into multiple turnovers. Did not shoot the ball well and like Pangos, did not look to get inside the zone enough
Edi- Did not play enough to evaluate, which is unfortunate because he slashing ability might have helped against the zone.