S. Dakota-Gonzaga Preview
After passing its first real test with relative ease, Gonzaga has one more tune-up before its schedule once again gets difficult.
The No. 19 Bulldogs host South Dakota on Sunday before heading to Florida for their only regular-season tournament.
Though Gonzaga (2-0) rolled to a 103-65 win over Southern Utah in its opener, coach Mark Few wondered how his team would fare when Bob Huggins brought a physical West Virginia squad into The Kennel on Monday. Any concerns Few had were quickly squelched as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 15-2 lead and rolled to an 84-50 victory over the Mountaineers.
Gary Bell Jr. scored 15 points and Guy Landry Edi added 14 as Gonzaga shot 52.0 percent while holding West Virginia to 27.3 percent from the field.
"It's nice to be able to face that type of athleticism and physical play and that type of pressure and be able to function," Few said.
With Bell, big man Elias Harris and guard Kevin Pangos, the expectations continue to soar for a team that has six players averaging at least 11.5 points through the first two games. Pangos and Bell combined to shoot 5 of 9 from 3-point range as the Bulldogs finished 9 of 16 from beyond the arc Monday.
Edi, who grew up in France and averaged 5.5 points and 2.4 rebounds as a junior-college transfer last season, has been a pleasant early surprise. The senior has totaled 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting and pulled down 14 boards.
While Few must be happy with the way his team is shooting, he might be more impressed with their defensive intensity. In addition to West Virginia's 3-for-26 performance from 3-point range, the Mountaineers had 20 turnovers.
"The defense was really good," Few said. "That was a great performance by our guys."
Gonzaga would like to continue its impressive play at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando starting Thanksgiving night against Clemson. Though the Bulldogs are currently the only ranked team in the event, the tournament has plenty of strong competition with the likes of Vanderbilt, Davidson, Oklahoma and West Virginia in the field.
Before that, Gonzaga must focus on its first meeting with South Dakota (1-2) since the 1968-69 season.
The Coyotes are looking to build on their first win Friday, 81-69 over North Carolina Central in the finale of the Global Sports Showcase at Wyoming. Freshman Tyler Flack had 21 points and eight rebounds overall and South Dakota outscored the Eagles 51-34 in the second half.
"I'm so happy for our players," coach Dave Boots told South Dakota's official athletics website. "This is a young team and I expect a lot out of them."