Gonzaga got 17 points from Jordan Matthews while freshmen big men Zach Collins and Killian Tillie, both of whom came off the bench, combined for 23 points, 18 boards, six steals and three blocks as the No. 14 Bulldogs steam-rolled an overmatched and banged up San Diego State team, 69-48, in Spokane.
It was the midnight game during ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon, so you’ll be forgiven if you couldn’t find it in you to stay up until 2 a.m. to watch the end.
Because you didn’t miss all that much.
Gonzaga looks like they are going to be just as good as we expected them to be this season. Their front line is massive. Przemek Karnowski is every bit the rim protector and low-post threat that he was before his back injury, and the duo of Collins and Tillie will allow him to be more aggressive without having to worry about picking up fouls. Johnathan Williams III adds a different dimension with his athleticism while Tillie’s ability to shoot from the perimeter helps open up space in the paint.
And that’s before you get to the guys in the back court. Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Matthews have been good through the season’s first two games, but perhaps more importantly, it’s Silas Melson and Josh Perkins that appear to be content playing a role. Both struggled on Monday night, but Melson was terrific in the opener and head coach Mark Few appeared to be willing to led Perkins and Williams-Goss play together.
Then you get to the defensive performance.
SDSU shot 28.6 percent from the floor and managed just five assists against 15 turnovers. Much of that credit deserves to go to the Zags, but it’s important to note that the Aztecs are not fully healthy. Not only were they without Malik Pope, but a number of key players are still working their way back to full health.
Steve Fisher needs to find an answer sooner rather than later. The Aztecs missed out on the NCAA tournament last season because they play in a down-Mountain West and struggled to get the wins – and avoid the losses – they needed to to get an at-large.
They probably were never going to win at Gonzaga, but the Zags are the only sure-fire tournament team on their schedule. They play in a watered-down Diamond Head Classic, they play Cal, they host Arizona State and they pay a visit to Grand Canyon. This loss is basically the only exposure SDSU will have nationally this season, and they didn’t exactly acquit themselves.