LAHAINA, Hawaii – Gonzaga junior point guard Kevin Pangos may have been born and developed his game in the colder weather of Canada, but he showed again Wednesday that he is just fine in warmer climates as well.
Pangos, a 6-2 All-American candidate from Ontario, completed a brilliant run through the Maui Inviational Wednesday as he poured in a career-high 34 points while knocking down 7-of-8 3-pointers as the No. 11 Zags downed Arkansas 91-81 in the event's fifth-place game.
Pangos, who had 33 against Washington State as a freshman and had 82 points in three games in Hawaii, was 10-15 from the field overall as Gonzaga (6-1) made 8-of-10 3-pointers in the second half and 12-of-20 for the game.
"You have to take your hat off to Pangos," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "The guy played 39 minutes and it seemed like he played perfect basketball...They did a good job of finding him and he also did a good job of getting to the basket."
Razorback 6-10 freshman forward Bobby Portis had a career-high 18 points and 7 rebounds while junior Alandise Harris had 17 points and Michael Qualls 13 points.
Moses Kingsley - Arkansas' 6-10 freshman center - had an inspired 9 points and 7 rebounds off the bench after getting two quick fouls in just two minutes of action in the first half.
Gonzaga – considered a legitimate Final Four contender after a 32-3 season of a year ago – shot 54.5 percent overall from the game while Arkansas shot just 43.1 percent (31-of-72) and just 4-of-20 from 3-point range.
"I won't take anything away from our guys," Anderson said. "I thought they gave great effort. But it goes to show that we don't shoot the ball well. We're 4-of-20 from the 3-point line and they played zone. The thing about it is that we've executed so well against the zone, but maybe the three games in three days caught up with us. I just don't know.
"But hat's off to them," Anderson said about his players falling down by 19 but fighting back. "Our guys refused to quit and that is something that we can build on."
Portis was 8-of-14 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
"Coach always tells me to be aggressive on offense and defense," Portis said. "So I go tried to go out and play as hard as I could on both ends of the floor."
Gonzaga coach Mark Few was disappointed to be playing in the fifth place game – especially since his team was a favorite to win the event along with Syracuse.
The Zags lost a 16-point second-half lead to Dayton on Monday night in the opener, but rebounded to win twice in the consolation round.
"Looking back on this tournament, we basically played pretty darn good except for about a five- or six minute-stretch in that Dayton game where we couldn't get a rebound, couldn't get a stop and just had a couple of turnovers. Other than that we had a good stretch of 120 minutes over here."
Few noted that he has a great shooting team, but the soft rims at the Lahaina Civic Center made it even better for his team.
"Well, we've been shooting it like that all year," Few said. "When we came in for practice I was disappointed because those are the softest rims I have ever seen in a Division I game. So to me that's kind of a great equalizer. These guys (the Zags) can shoot on outdoor courts with the mushroomed-shape deal, and the rim racheted down so it doesn't even move."
Pangos, averaging 20 points and 4 assists coming in, loved the soft rims from his first practice here in Maui.
"At first I felt like the shots were just falling," Pangos said. "You hit the front rim and it just absorbs it, and as he says, we've been shooting like this all year.
"But as a shooter, you feel more confident putting it up knowing that there is an extra bit of chance it is going to roll in or at least get a good bounce," Pangos added. "even floaters and that sort of thing up close. It helps with so minute different shots."
Gary Dower Jr. added 19 points and Gary Bell 13 while David Stockton - former NBA player John Stockton's son - and Kyle Dranginis each had six assists.
Anderson notes that his team has to improve on its halfcourt defense.
"I thought there were a couple of times Pangos did a good job of running off some screens," Anderson said. "We had a chance to switch and possibly stop that. Good teams make adjustments. But they're on fire. It's amazing."
He was very impressed with Arkansas and thinks they are a likely NCAA Tournament team.
"I do," Few said. "I feel like the physical entity that they have around the rim is something that is very impressive. The way (Anthlon) Bell shoots the ball and as Portis gets more and more experience. He was finishing everything around the hoop today. I love the depth they had. I thought we did a good job on Harris and he ended up with 17. Qualls continues to make shots out there.
"They've got a nice looking team so I really do," Few said. "I told (Dayton coach) Archie (Miller) that I think Dayton's got a really good team. Watching the (Arkansas-) Cal game, I think Mike's doing an awesome job with his crew and Syracuse is who they are and Baylor has those big long guys. There are a lot of tournament teams lurking around over here."
It will certainly help Arkansas in that regard if Portis and Kingsley progress as they did in Hawaii.
Portis finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds in his last two games while Kingsley – after not playing in the opener – had 16 points and 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes of action the final two games.
"Bobby fought each and every game and he got better," Anderson said. "It was really on display today. How about Moses? Last night you thought it he played well. Well he built on that even moreso in our game against a very good team in Gonzaga. He shows no fear. With that, you can work with that."
Anderson was sure the competition here has made his team better. The Razorbacks are off until next Tuesday's game with Southeastern Louisiana and then host Clemson Saturday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m.
"This was three games against darn good competition – teams that you will probably see in the NCAA," Anderson said. "So that tells me we are not that far off. We'll go back, work and get better. We got exposed on some things and we'll work on it. But it is nice to see some guys with some size that can play the way we want to play."
Kevin Pangos drives past Micahel Qualls for two of his 34 points.
Gonzaga 91, Arkansas 81
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