The Gonzaga Bulldogs faced a tough test early but got themselves together quickly as they advanced on to the second round of the West region by defeating the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, 66-46, on Thursday afternoon in Salt Lake City.
STOPPER: The Bulldogs draped 6-9 forward Johnathan Williams on Daum for most of the game, and he kept the South Dakota State big man in check.
For the Jacks, tomorrow's game is culmination of a 6 month journey, which saw them stuck at the bottom of the league to the standing on the summit. The college basketball odds for the game have the Bulldogs listed as a huge favorite to pick up the win.
"It took us a couple of minutes to figure out, but once we did, it was just basketball again", Mathews said.
There are 16 first-round games today and 16 more tomorrow as the field of 68 gets under way at eight different sites. With a 32-1 record and a number one seed in this year's NCAA tournament one would think that the Bulldogs would feel some pressure to live up to expectations. From there, just pray the defending champs have a 6-for-26 shooting game like they did in a January loss to Butler. They beat Gonzaga to every loose ball at the start and led for the first 17 minutes, then kept it interesting deep into the second half.
Who would've thought they were even going to be here two months ago?
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Leading the way for Gonzaga is talented guard Nigel Williams-Goss. Daum averages 25 points a game, which ranks him second in the nation.
We already went over this a bit, but it bears repeating: Villanova did not get a very pleasant prize for being the tournament's no. 1 overall seed. "My teams, Adam Morrison's teams, for the most part we were gonna try to outscore you, and we were pretty good at it". Kansas is just two games from a potential rematch with no. 5 seed Iowa State (23-10).
Everywhere Gonzaga plays the junior guard seems to have family or friends in attendance. "We knew on the defensive end we were doing our jobs, and eventually, the shots were going to fall", Collins said.
North Carolina commits an average of 17.8 fouls per game, therefore if Texas Southern's backcourt trio of Zach Lofton, Demontrae Jefferson and Kevin Scott can keep the Heels off balance, they may yield a lot of points at the line.
UP NEXT: Gonzaga plays the victor of Thursday afternoon's 8-9 matchup between Northwestern and Vanderbilt.