How it Happened
Gonzaga used five early three-pointers and a lot of early offensive rebounds to help build a 26-18 lead, but then didn't make a field goal in the final 6:48 of the first half. SMU closed the half on a 12-1 run and held Kyle Wiltjer to 1-for-11 shooting in the first half. He entered Saturday averaging 21.8 points per game. Neither team led by more than five points in the second half until a Jordan Tolbert dunk gave SMU a 62-56 lead with 7:40 to go. The dunk was part of a 10-2 run that helped SMU pull away. Nic Moore scored a game-high 25-points.
What it Means
SMU earned a badly needed bounce back win, but it wasn’t without flaw. Gonzaga missed some open threes and SMU allowed the Bulldogs to start five-of-12 from three. SMU struggled guarding Domantas Sabonis, who finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds. But the Mustangs held Kyle Wiltjer to four points on 2-for-17 shooting. They aren’t all the way back defensively, but the team defensive effort on Wiltjer and the 32 Gonzaga three-point attempts are good signs.
Player of the Game
Nic Moore. He scored 18 second-half points and had 11 assists, one off his season high. Moore only attempted four three-pointers, compared to 14 two-pointers. He used screens well and was aggressive going to the rim against Gonzaga's inexperienced guards, but also succeeded against Eric McClellan, a usually strong on-ball and perimeter defender.
Tonight was the third time all season Wiltjer scored fewer than 10 points. Gonzaga was 1-1 in the other two games he was held to below 10 points.
SMU travels east to play Connecticut on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. CT.