On Friday Gonzaga took on West Coast opponent UCLA in Houston and walked away with a 74-62 victory. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. combined for 16 points in the contest on their way to the Elite Eight. So how can a backcourt duo only combine for 16 points in a Sweet 16 matchup, yet be the best backcourt remaining in the tournament?
Simple — Pangos and Bell are great complements to one another.
Pangos is the floor general. The senior guard controls the pace for Mark Few and does seemingly everything well on the basketball court. Pangos has an exceptional understanding of the game — his high basketball IQ is evident by his almost 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Initially known for his shooting ability early in his career, Pangos has shot a career best 44 percent from deep this season. Shooting the long ball continues to be his mainstay.
Bell adds another dimension to Gonzaga. He’s the ultimate perimeter defender. What separates Gonzaga’s backcourt from the rest of the Elite Eight teams is Bell’s defense. Bell does a lot of things well on the offensive end, with the ability to knock down the three as well as penetrate and find open teammates. Bell is a well-rounded player, but defense is his forte.
Both of the guards’ scoring numbers are down from a year ago, but their play hasn’t regressed. Their scoring numbers are down because Gonzaga has a better team — the two are happy to sacrifice their scoring for the betterment of the team.
Pangos and Bell are the requisite veteran guards that are so essential for making a deep run in March. The 6-foot-2 seniors have fought the battles alongside one another for four years, so it should come as no surprise that Gonzaga has made it to the Elite Eight.
Other teams remaining in the field might have better offensive players, but Pangos and Bell have a synergistic play about them that makes the two seniors the best backcourt remaining in the tournament.
James Szuba is a college basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesSzuba.