Defense on Kyle Wiltjer
SMU spent a lot of time game planning for defending Wiltjer in Friday's practice. Ben Moore and Markus Kennedy did most of the work on him and held him to four points and 2-for-17 shooting. It was the third time all season Wiltjer had scored fewer than 10 points. Wiltjer missed three straight jump shots in a span of 24 seconds, frustrating him for the rest of the game.
Just another day for Nic Moore. He scored 25 points, 18 of which came in the second half, and tallied 11 assists. It was his third career double-double and the 11 assists were one off his season high. Moore only attempted four three-pointers, compared with 14 two-pointers and eight free throws. He entered Saturday averaging 6.5 attempted threes per game and 3.8 free throws per game. He was aggressive in going to the rim against a good defender in Gonzaga's Eric McClellan.
After an unusally late-arriving and quiet crowd throughout Wednesday's loss to Tulsa, 7,249 fans packed into Moody Coliseum. Head coach Larry Brown and players Nic Moore and Ben Moore all commented on the atmosphere. Brown said Saturday may have been the loudest he has heard Moody. He also was pleased that the students didn't storm the court, a sign of the fans' heightning expectations.
Defense on Domantas Sabonis
Defenses can only neutralize Sabonis, not completely shut him down. After his 20-point, 15-rebounds game vs. SMU, he has scored double-doubles in 20 of Gonzaga's 26 games and has posted either double-digit points or rebounds in all but two games this year. So while Sabonis having a big game isn't a travesty, SMU struggled with him early in both halves. Jordan Tolbert was out of position on him a few times and SMU had a couple unfavorable matchups on him. He was matched against Nic Moore one time, but a bad entry pass prevented Gonzaga from scoring on that possession.
This is another area SMU should feel better about, but not completely. SMU forced Gonzaga to shoot 32 three-pointers, which Brown liked because it means SMU guarded off the dribble better. But Gonzaga started 5-for-12 from three, moving the ball well and for long enough to make an SMU defender go out of position. The Bulldogs also missed a lot of open threes.
SMU was out-rebounded, although only by two, 37-35. Gonzaga had 14 offensive rebounds, six from Sabonis and a lot on backtaps. Offensive rebounds come easier for a team that shoots 37.7 percent from the floor as Gonzaga did, but Saturday marked the third time in six games that SMU has allowed opponents to grab at least a third of their misses. For the season, SMU's opponents grab 29.5 percent of their offensive rebounds.