Mount St. Mary's-Gonzaga Preview
With an entire game finally under its belt, Gonzaga gets another tune-up before heading to the Bahamas to face some tougher competition in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The 10th-ranked Bulldogs will try to keep Mount St. Mary's winless Saturday night when they host a regional matchup in the event.
After Gonzaga's opener with Pittsburgh in Okinawa, Japan, last week was called off following one half due to poor floor conditions, Mark Few's club was itching to return to the court. When the Bulldogs finally got back Wednesday against Northern Arizona, they shook off a slow start to lead by 15 at the break, shot 52.9 percent for the game and held the Lumberjacks to 30.2 percent shooting in the 91-52 victory.
''It was good to see our guys get going, and going up and down," said Few, whose program's 52.0 percent shooting led the nation during its run to the regional finals last season.
Few wasn't happy about his team's 17 turnovers, but felt its effort was solid for the first official game.
"When we weren't turning the ball over I thought we were pretty efficient on the offensive end, which is the whole key to winning basketball games," Few said.
Domantas Sabonis had 26 points off the bench, Kyle Wiltjer added 23, and each recorded seven rebounds for Gonzaga, which after this contest faces Washington on Wednesday to open the Bahamas portion of the tournament. No. 19 Connecticut, 24th-ranked Michigan, Syracuse, Texas and Texas A&M are also in the field.
Sabonis, who along with Wiltjer, made the Wooden Award preseason Top 50 list, didn't show any ill effects of a back injury he suffered against Pittsburgh.
''I was taking what my teammates gave me,'' said the 6-foot-11 son of former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis. ''It was a good start.''
Following a solid freshman season in which he averaged 9.7 points and 7.1 boards, Sabonis went 12 of 13 from the floor and demonstrated the overall ability that his coaches are excited about for 2015-16.
''I got after him this week to get more aggressive,'' Few said. ''The more aggressive he is for us the better.''
Before the competition gets tougher, Sabonis should have a good chance to further hone his skills against Mount Saint Mary's (0-3). The Mountaineers haven't made things easy on themselves by losing to third-ranked Maryland, Ohio State and Washington on the road by an average of 26.3 points.
The task won't get any easier in Spokane, where Gonzaga has won 25 straight against unranked, nonconference opponents since at 74-67 loss to Michigan State on Dec. 10, 2011.
BK Ashe (12.7 points per game) and 5-5 sophomore Junior Robinson (12.3 ppg) lead the Mountaineers, and combined for 29 points in Thursday's 100-67 loss at Washington. Mount St. Mary's has shot 31.8 percent from the field and 27.4 from beyond the arc to open the season. Its first three opponents hit on 53.1 percent of their overall attempts.
This will be the first meeting between the schools.