Clarke powers No. 3 Gonzaga past Texas Southern 104-67
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Brandon Clarke provided the spark that third-ranked Gonzaga needed.
Clarke had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots as Gonzaga beat Texas Southern 104-67 on Saturday night.
Josh Perkins added 19 points and 11 assists for Gonzaga (2-0), which had little trouble handling the Tigers. Rui Hachimura added 17 points in 20 minutes after battling foul trouble for most of the first half.
After losing Hachimura to early foul trouble, Clarke provided the pick-me-up that Gonzaga was looking for.
The Zags appeared stale in the first 10 minutes of the game, but Clarke was a factor blocking shots and attacking the rim. Gonzaga used the play from Perkins and Clarke to spark a 16-3 run with six minutes remaining in the first half. The gave the Bulldogs a comfortable lead into halftime 46-24.
"I was proud of our guys, I thought we were much more active on the defensive end. Just more energetic and scrappy and that's kind of how we have to be," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Trayvon Reed had 14 points and 16 rebounds for Texas Southern (1-1).
Texas Southern failed to get anything going in the second half against an amped up Gonzaga defense. Hachimura started the second half with a dunk on Gonzaga's first possession.
Just two minutes later, the crowd was ignited with back-to-back dunks from Clarke — one an alley-oop from Perkins who was falling out of bounds before throwing a tough pass.
"I just told him, that is the BC we want to see. Sometimes we throw a lot at ya with all of the coverages and things that we are doing," Few said.
"I think he was a little paralyzed by that, but he just kind of cut loose and played today, which was a good thing."
After that sequence of events, the game spiraled out of control for Texas Southern, which shot just 34 percent from the field and 27 percent from beyond the arc.
Gonzaga shot 52 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range. 6'11 freshman Filip Petrusev, a 6-foot-11 freshman, saw action throughout and was 2 of 3 from long range and finished with 14 points.
"I'm not sure we will see another team in the regular season quite as potent as they were tonight," Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones said.
Gonzaga: The Zags will face their first test of the young season when they host Texas A&M on Thursday. While not being ranked, the Aggies have made noise in the NCAA tournament two out of the last three seasons under coach Billy Kennedy. ... Gonzaga continues to play without star forward Killian Tillie, who is out for eight weeks with an ankle injury.
Texas Southern: After snapping Baylor's 56-game winning streak over the Southwestern Athletic Conference with a 72-69 win, the Tigers disappointed against the third-ranked team in the country. ... Texas Southern has two days of rest before taking on a tough Iowa State team on Monday.
Texas Southern plays Iowa State on Monday.
Gonzaga plays host to Texas A&M on Thursday.