The match-up to watch in this game was expected to be the big men of Gonzaga and Utah. The Bulldogs Domantas Sabonis and Utes Jacob Poeltl project to be future lottery picks in the NBA Draft. Depending on which of the two big men could impose their will on the other, may decide the outcome of this second round matchup. Based on that previous statement, it’s easy to see why the Bulldogs drummed the Utes 82-59.
In the first half, Sabonis clearly had the edge in the match-up over Poeltl. Sabonis scored 11 points, had 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Jacob Poeltl, who finished the first half with 5 points and 2 rebounds, checked out of the game with about 6:30 remaining after picking up his 2nd foul. The Bulldogs went on a 13-4 run to close out the half, leading 44-29. “What other sport is there five fouls? There should be six fouls in basketball. I’d really like to see a rule change for the betterment of the game,” said Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak following the game on his frustrations with the foul limits in college basketball. The Bulldog’s Kyle Wiltjer and Eric McClellan combined 5-6 from beyond the arc and scored 21 of the Zags first half points. Utah was teetering on oblivion and needed to come out of halftime swinging.
The 2nd half of the game saw Gonzaga flat out dominate a clearly listless Utah team that couldn’t find any rhythm and seemed to quit halfway through. Eric McClellan, who scored a game high 22 points, started to impose his will on the Utes whether it was hitting from beyond the arc or blowing by defenders after a steal for the and-1 layup. Domantas Sabonis (19 points, 10 rebounds) continued his dominance on the match-up with with Jacob Poeltl, who didn’t score a single point in the second half, finishing the game with a season-low 5 points, 4 rebounds. “He’s a really tough kid. He’s getting better and better as he plays,” said Gonzaga Coach Mark Few on Sabonis’ impact this season. The Bulldog’s starters outscored Utah 75-39 and as a team, out-rebounded the Utes by ten (34-24). “These guys have done a great job focusing on just winning the next game,” said Coach Few following the win. “We haven’t played a bad game this year. We’ve had some bad stretches but I’ve never had a team do that.”
Gonzaga imposed their will on both ends of the court, shooting 55.7% from the field and allowing 42.3% from the Utes. “The best team won tonight,” said Coach Krystkowiak. The Bulldogs advance to the Sweet 16 after holding both of their first two opponents under 60 points. They will be a tough match-up for either Syracuse or Middle Tennessee.
TOP PHOTO CREDIT: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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