If you saw Sim Bhullar and New Mexico State, you’ll understand why the Gonzaga Bulldogs struggled against height. Going against a 7-foot-5, 360-pound Bhullar and a 6-foot-11, 280-pound South African Tshilidzi Nephawe might have hindered the efficiency of Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski.
Luckily for the Zags, they love shooting threes. Led by Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and David Stockton, the backcourt does a great job of silencing the big man. Big men are a dime-a-dozen in today’s college basketball, and Gonzaga has two they can rely in Karnowski and Dower. If either of them get into foul trouble, the Bulldogs start to hurt. Tonight, that was not the issue; Bhullar and Nephawe were the problem.
The height of the two Aggies got into the heads of Karnowski and Dower early and often. They combined for 3-of-14 from the floor and resulted in 11 points. The two Gonzaga centers did what coach Mark Few wanted: get Bhullar and Nephawe into foul trouble. Once the twin towers were put on the bench, it was still tough to put away the Aggies; it was a one-point game at halftime. However, it allowed for the notorious Gonzaga guards to shoot freely from the floor.
The Bulldogs used its speed in transition against the slow Bhullar. There was absolutely no chance of him getting back in time for defense. Bhullar got his third foul with 18 minutes to go in the game due to frustration against Karnowski’s physicality.
Gerard Coleman was a nice addition for Gonzaga off the bench, adding 10 points on nine total shots from the floor. Karnowski might have struggled scoring, but he out-rebounded one of the biggest guys in the world in a win over the Aggies by six total rebounds. Gonzaga ran its way to victory against the Aggies in the second half using its transition game to a stroke of beauty; however, they need to figure out how to play against height.
Dower finished with 22 points and Coleman finished with 21 points, carving the win against the Aggies. At first, the height was a challenge for Gonzaga, but with great coaching and point guard leadership from Pangos, Stockton and Coleman, the Bulldogs finished off the competitive Aggies 80-68.