No. 10/8 MBB to Take On St. John's in NIT Championship
No. 10/8 Gonzaga will face hometown St. John's in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET inside Madison Square Garden in New York City.
10/8 Gonzaga (5-0) vs. St. John's (4-0)Fri., Nov. 28, 2014 | 4 p.m. (PT) | Madison Square Garden (18,200) | New York City TV
: ESPN2 (Ryan Ruocco, Dan Dakich, Jeff Goodman)Gonzaga IMG Radio Network
: KGA 1510/Sirius XM Ch. 84 (Tom Hudson, Matt Santangelo) WatchESPN | Live Stats
| Gonzaga Notes | St. John's Notes
- This game is the championship of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
- Last time out: Gonzaga took down Georgia on Wednesday 88-76 to earn a spot in the NIT final against hometown St. John’s. The Red Storm defeated Minnesota 70-61 in the first semifinal after trailing by nine at the half.
- Gonzaga is now 2-4 all-time at Madison Square Garden.
- Gonzaga is on a seven-game regular-season win streak (last regular season loss, 69-66 at San Diego, Feb. 22).
- GU has had four different leading scorers in its first five games. Kyle Wiltjer has led twice.
- Senior guard Kevin Pangos went 118 minutes of game action and dished out 27 assists before committing his first turnover of the season. He now has 29 assists and one turnover.
- Head coach Mark Few enters the game with a career record of 408-100, the NCAA’s all-time leader in winning percentage at .803.
- Gonzaga is 5-0 for the third time in the last four seasons. Under Mark Few, GU has gone 5-0 four previous times, and is looking for its third 6-0 start (previous two: 2008-09, 2012-13).
- Through it’s first five games, Gonzaga’s depth has shown its teeth, with five players averaging double figures, and three more averaging more than 5.0 per game.
- Gonzaga’s defense has been stifling to opposing teams, limiting them to .338 from the field.
ABOUT ST. JOHN’S
- St. John’s enters the game with a 4-0 record and will be playing in front of a home crowd at MSG where they play nearly half of their scheduled home games this season.
- D’Angelo Harrison (18.5 ppg) and Rysheed Jordan (17.5 ppg) do the bulk of the scoring with Harrison (also 10.0 rpg) averaging a double-double on the season.
- The Red Storm only shoot 22% from behind the arc, with Harrison having 9 of team’s 12 3’s.
ABOUT THE SERIES
- Gonzaga leads the all-time series between the teams 3-1, including wins in each of the last three matchups (2000, ‘02, ‘11).
- They have squared off twice in the NCAA Tournament (‘00, ‘11), both of which Gonzaga has won. Most recently, GU took an 86-71 win in the NCAA 2nd round in 2011 in Denver, Colo.
- In 2000, the Zags defeated second-seeded St. John’s to advance to the Sweet 16.
PERKINS SIDELINED INDEFINITELY
After taking a blow to the face from a Georgia defender’s leg, reserve point guard Josh Perkins suffered a broken jaw, which is now wired shut. He is not experiencing concussion symptoms, but there is no timetable for his return.
Heading into the NIT in New York City, the Zags were the only team in the nation ranked in the top 10 in both field goal percentage (56.1) and field percentage defense (30.8). The NCAA released stat rankings for the first time this season on Nov. 23, and Gonzaga is ranked in the top 10 in 10 categories. See the right-hand column on this page for the full breakdown of Gonzaga in the NCAA and West Coast Conference stat rankings.
‘K-WILTJ’ POURING IT ON
It didn’t take Kyle Wiltjer long to show his ability to fill it up in a Gonzaga uniform. Against Georgia, Wiltjer knocked down 14-of-26 shots on the way to a career-high 32 points. His previous career-high of 26 came in a Kentucky uniform against Ole Miss in 2013. And even though he’s known for his ability to shoot the three, 13 of his 14 field goals came from inside the arc vs. UGA.
Gonzaga’s group of newcomers and transfers has not only brought depth and balance, but they’ve been prolific at putting the ball in the basket. First-year GU players have combined to make up 50.1% of the offense this season, led by Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer’s team-leading 16.8 points per game. USC transfer Byron Wesley is averaging 12.4 points per game and freshman Domantas Sabonis is at 12.0.
FUN WHILE IT LASTED
Through five games, senior point guard Kevin Pangos has committed just one turnover and it came in the second half of GU’s last game against Georgia. Pangos played 118 minutes of game action and dished out 27 assists before that first turnover. With a total of 29 assists and just one turnover, Pangos leads the nation with a 29.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s averaging 5.8 assists per game, well above his career average of 3.4.
It’s no secret that Kevin Pangos is one of the nation’s top players - he’s on three player or point guard of the year watch lists - and he’s proving them all right. With a deep roster around him, Pangos is averaging 12.6 points, which is slightly below his career average of 13.3, but his field goal percentage, three-point percentage, free throw percentage, assists per game and steals per game are all up, while his turnovers per game are down. Check out this comparison of his career numbers against his performance thus far this season:
Stat, First 3 years, This year
FG%, .429, .677
3FG%, .410, .563
FT%, .849, .857
Assists PG, 3.4, 5.8
Steals PG, 1.2, 1.8
Turnovers PG, 1.6, 0.2
SHARING IS CARING
Through five games, Gonzaga has been one of the best in the nation at both sharing the ball and caring for the ball. The Zags rank in the top five in assists per game at 21.0 and assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.10. GU has comitted just 51 turnovers in five games while dishing out 107 assists. Kevin Pangos leads with 29 assists, and Josh Perkins and Byron Wesley both have 17.
VERY FEW LOSSES IN NOVEMBER
During Mark Few’s 16 years at the helm of the Gonzaga program, he’s compiled an NCAA record .803 winning percentage. But, he’s been even better in the month of November, compiling an astounding .837 mark with 72 wins and 14 losses. Over the last four seasons, the Zags are 23-1 (.958) in November. Here’s how it breaks down by year:
1999-00 — 3-0 2005-06 — 4-1 2010-11 — 4-2
2000-01 — 3-1 2006-07 — 7-1 2011-12 — 5-0
2001-02 — 4-2 2007-08 — 6-1 2012-13 — 7-0
2002-03 — 2-2 2008-09 — 5-0 2013-14 — 6-1
2003-04 — 3-1 2009-10 — 5-0 2014-15 — 5-0
2004-05 — 3-1
It isn’t only Gonzaga’s 93.4 points per game on offense that’s been impressive, its been the 57.4 points per game allowed on defense. The Zags have held opponents to .338 from the field, and .282 from behind the arc. GU has forced 69 turnovers through four games, collected 40 steals and swatted away 21 shots.
Gonzaga has cleaned up on the glass through five games, holding an average of +15.6 on the boards. Collectively, the Zags have scooped up 13 more offensive rebounds than their opponents and 65 more defensive rebounds. Newcomer Domantas Sabonis leads the way, averaging 6.4 boards per game, while four others are averaging at least 5.4 per game.
Gonzaga’s bench is averaging more than 33 points per game this season and a big reason why is freshman Domantas Sabonis. He’s scored in double figures in four of the first five games and ranks fourth on the team in scoring at 12.0. Senior Angel Nunez has also become a potent weapon for Mark Few, averaging 9.6 points per game after his 24-point outburst against St. Thomas Aquinas.
Follow Pangos’ road to the GU career three-point record on Twitter with #4equals3. With two threes vs. Georgia, he sits in fourth at 250, just two behind Matt Santangelo 252, 30 behind Richie Frahm’s 280 and 38 behind Blake Stepp’s 288.
- Needs 39 three-pointers to break Blake Stepp’s GU career record of 288
- Needs 175 points to move into top 10 all-time in scoring at GU
- Needs 61 assists to move into top 5 all-time at GU
- Moved into 10th all-time with 135 steals, and needs 22 steals to move into top 5 at GU
Gary Bell Jr.
- Eclipsed 1,000 points in his career vs. St. Joseph’s to become the 38th player to do so at GU and now has 1,029 points, 37th all-time at GU.
- Against St. Joseph’s, moved into top 10 all-time at GU in made threes with175
- Against St. Thomas Aquinas, moved into tie for10th all-time at GU in blocks with 77
Gonzaga has shown its depth through the first five games with at least nine players scoring in four of the five contests. Ten players scored in games one, three and four; nine in game two. The Zags also have nine players averaging between 16.2 and 26.6 minutes per game.
DOUBLE DIGITS X5
Gonzaga has five players averaging at least 10.0 points per game, lead by Wiltjer’s 16.8. In three of the first five games, GU has had at least five players in double figures, including a different leading scorer four times.
MAKING IT RAIN
Gonzaga is averaging 8.2 three-pointers per game so far this season and is shooting at a .410 clip (41-100). Seven players have made at least one three, and Gary Bell Jr. leads the team with 12, including his five-three-pointer outburst against St. Joseph’s nine days ago.
All 31 Gonzaga games will be televised this season, including 16 on the ESPN family of networks. That gives Gonzaga 68 ESPN appearances in the last four seasons.
Gonzaga hit the 100-point mark for the second time this season last Saturday with a 109-55 win over St. Thomas Aquinas. It is the highest point total since 113-point effort against Chaminade in the Maui Invitational on Nov. 26, 2013. It also marks the third consecutive season the Zags have hit 100 twice in a year, and the eighth time in Mark Few’s 16 years at the helm.
PANGOS ON WATCH LISTS
Senior guard Kevin Pangos has been named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50, Bob Cousy Award Watch List, Lute Olson Award Watch List and USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy Watch List this season. He is one of 37 players named to the Cousy list, an award given to the nation’s top collegiate point guard. He is one of 25 players named to the Olson list, an award given to the player of the year in college basketball. And he is one of 25 players on the Robertson list, also given to the nation’s top player.