I’m trying to balance two competing emotions. Buzz is absolutely the perfect man for this job, and I’m confident he’s going to turn this program around... but last night was unacceptable. We are not 30 points worse than Gonzaga. We were outgunned, sure, but our inability to hang for longer than nine minutes is a really troubling sign in the short term. We couldn’t rebound, we couldn’t hang on to the basketball, we couldn’t rotate defensively, and we couldn’t shoot.
I’ll at least say this: It wasn’t an effort problem.
The First Nine Minutes
To our credit, we really did come out punching. We were flying around defensively, we rotated well and drew a handful of charges, and we rebounded well. Our offense wasn’t stellar, but we managed to do enough to hold a 14-11 lead with less than twelve minutes remaining.
At that point, all hell broke loose.
The Other Thirty One Minutes
Hell came in the form of an extended 29-5 run to close the half, a stretch where we committed six turnovers and went 1-17 from the field while the Bulldogs converted their transition opportunities and repeatedly broke us down defensively for open threes. It was bad, y’all.
And in the second half... Gonzaga did what good teams do. They shut the door. We kept the deficit in the 18-20 range for a while, but a second burst (this time 10-0) extended the lead to 62-32 and had people headed for the exits. The rest was an exercise in futility.
Final Score: Gonzaga 79, Texas A&M 49
- Let’s start with the positives: Josh Nebo looks healthy. He didn’t start, but he played 25 minutes and had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Expect to see him slot into the starting lineup soon, if not immediately.
- The other positives: Andre Gordon and Wendell Mitchell were game for the entire evening. Mitchell led the team with 14 points on 5-13 shooting, and Gordon looked assertive on both ends of the floor.
- The other kinda positive... we shot free throws well! 12-16 on the evening. So there’s that.
- Now, the transition to the dark side... we grabbed our first assist with 18:59 remaining in the second half. In the second half. We played an entire half of collegiate basketball without a single assist, en route to a 5:18 assist-to-turnover ratio on the evening.
- Gonzaga torched us for 15 offensive boards, a number that looks much worse when you consider how well they shot. The Bulldogs grabbed 45% of all available rebounds on our defensive end of the floor, which is a surefire way to get your butt kicked at any level of basketball.
- Savion Flagg... did not play well. In last week’s episode we spoke at length about this team needing him to be more selfish, and he was deferential to a fault. He wasn’t just passing up opportunities to score, he was doing it in a way that ground our possessions to a halt. It was an oddly pedestrian evening for our best player, and the scoreline reflected our sobering reality when he doesn’t have it against good opposition.
- Quenton Jackson submitted an alarming stink bomb, as he was the most bankable new arrival coming into this game. 16 minutes, 0 points, and 3 turnovers... I honestly struggle to remember one positive contribution on the offensive end.
- It was good to see our old friend Admon Gilder one last time. He looked good, and I wish him the best this season. Athletic subscribers will enjoy this piece on his fifth and final season.
We failed our first real test, gang. This is an unqualified F across the board.
Troy comes to town on Wednesday night, which is our last opportunity to get things right before our Thanksgiving tournament in Orlando (a tournament that includes at least two games against quality opposition) and the game against Texas in Fort Worth.
Let’s build a little momentum this week.