With the superior guard play that the Gonzaga Bulldogs bring to the table, they need to be one of the fastest-paced teams in the country. However, against the West Virginia Mountaineers, the ‘Zags wanted to slow the pace down — perfect for coach Bob Huggins’ style.
It seems as if Gonzaga plays to the level and pace of its opponent’s — a sign of a team that struggles for an offensive identity on the road. Coach Huggins wanted to take away the one player that gets the Bulldogs going: shooting guard Kevin Pangos. The two-guard did not have an open look all night — until about four minutes left to go in the game — because of the blanket defense that the Mountaineers ran against him, putting constant pressure on him.
Gonzaga would have done better if they had pushed the pace and played in transition on offense and slowed down everything on defense. At the end of the game, they started pushing the tempo and pushed the buttons of the Mountaineers. Once the ‘Zags pushed the pace, it was smooth-sailing for the road team.
Pushing the pace and upping the tempo helps the Bulldogs’ shooters get wide-open looks — except for tonight where they shot an abysmal 28 percent from behind the arc. Missing shots allowed Przemek Karnowski to shine and get offensive rebounds and easy lay-ins.
Karnowski led all scorers with 19 and grouped that 13 rebounds; he played with a chip on his shoulder, as he has been a relative non-factor of late. With Pangos’ hot streak and the 13-to-0 run, the Bulldogs got a huge come-from-behind victory on the road against a Big-12 Conference opponent.
This win should be a key win on Gonzaga’s resume for the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs came from eight points down with six minutes to go in the game to win by four. Once Pangos got hot, so did Gonzaga and it was almost unstoppable for the defensive-minded Mountaineers.
John Lloyd is a PAC-12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHLloydIII.