Night Court: Gonzaga sends message with dominant win

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
Gonzaga absolutely dominated West Virginia -- and the feeling is that the Bulldogs can still get better. (US Presswire)

Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's Monday night (and soon-to-be Tuesday morning) …

Game of the Night: Tony Snell and the altitude help New Mexico come back and beat Davidson.

Davidson, one of the top mid-major teams in the country, jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half against host New Mexico. Then altitude kicked in. And so did Snell. Those two (along with other factors) combined to help the Lobos win, 86-81. After losing Drew Gordon from last season, coach Steve Alford needed one or two of his role players to step forward and become a go-to-guy. That player could be Snell, who went for a career-high 25 points. New Mexico stopped relying on its perimeter shooting, and started to go inside -- where Davidson had trouble stopping the Lobos. Alex Kirk made several timely plays inside, and Davidson couldn't avoid foul trouble. New Mexico ended up going 38-for-44 from the free-throw line, whereas Davidson went 15-for-20. Moreover, the Wildcats hit just four 3-pointers in the second half. De'Mon Brooks was dominant when he was on the floor, scoring 22 for Davidson.

These game was telling for both teams. Despite the loss, the Wildcats are still certainly a game or two in March. As for New Mexico, it comes down to Snell. If he provides this sort of production on a nightly basis, the Lobos will be tough.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Gonzaga looks really, really good. Maybe Final Four good? Wouldn't go that far, but Mark Few has a heckuva squad.

Gonzaga had plenty of preseason hype this season, as the Bulldogs always seem to get in October. But this year feels different -- and Tuesday morning's 34-point throttling of West Virginia is the main reason. Gonzaga wasn't hitting on all cylinders early, Elias Harris didn't get going until late, they allowed 15 offensive rebounds -- and the game was still never close. Mark Few has so many options offensively, with Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell in the backcourt, along with Harris, Guy Landry Edi, Przemek Karnowski and others up front. The defense wasn't too shabby, either. On the other hand, West Virginia looked awful offensively. The Mountaineers simply don't have any consistent perimeter production from the wings. Jabarie Hinds and Juwan Staten are solid point guard, and Aaric Murray and Deniz Kilicli can be productive down low -- but where's the shooting? Bob Huggins has some kinks to work out.

That's a good win: Youngstown State is the first-week mid-major darling.

The Penguins started off the season with a win over George Washington, but Monday's victory at Georgia was even better. Kendrick Perry went for 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. But it was their defense – and Georgia's horrific shooting – that stole the show. The Bulldogs went just 17-for-53 from the floor and almost had a 1-2 assist-turnover ratio. Coaches around the Horizon thought Youngstown State could be a sleeper in the league this year; the first two games have shown why.

But that's a bad loss: North Texas can't get over the hump against Alabama-Huntsville.

Losing to Doug McDermott and Creighton is understandable. The Bluejays are a top-25 team and have an All-American. But Alabama-Huntsville? A Division-II team? That's what the Mean Green did on Monday night, getting behind early and never fully overcoming the deficit. Forward Tony Mitchell is one of the best players in college basketball, and should be enough to carry North Texas at times. Somehow, they couldn't get by UAH. Brutal loss.

Players with impact

  1. Some people think we underrated Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael in our top 100 rankings – and his opening-night performance against UC-Santa Barbara won't slow it down. He went for 27 points and 10 rebounds, showing that his impressive summer wasn't a fluke.
  2. Providence was without Vincent Council against Bryant, but Kadeem Batts made sure it wasn't a close contest. The big man went for 27 points and nine rebounds in the 81-49 victory.

Numbers to figure:

  • Fordham's Chris Gaston has averaged around 17 points and 11 rebounds during his career. Against Pittsburgh, though, he went for just four points and six boards.
  • Erick Green is going to put up some serious numbers for Virginia Tech this season. He's basically the entire Hokies' offense. As a result, he's going for 23 points and five assists through the first two games.
  • Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson scored 29 points in the opener, and averaged 22 per game last season. He scored just seven against Rutgers.
  • Kansas State had 20 assists on its 29 field goals against Lamar in the Wildcats' 79-55 win.

Other outcomes of note:

  • Memphis wasn't perfect against North Florida, but the Tigers got their first win of the season, 81-66. Tarik Black led the way with 18 points and seven boards.
  • Not surprisingly, Indiana will remain at the No. 1 spot after beating North Dakota State 87-61. The Bison hung around for awhile, but 22 points and nine boards from Cody Zeller helped put the game away.
  • Florida State isn't as bad as Friday would indicate. The Seminoles had arguably the worst loss of the weekend, when they dropped one at home to South Alabama. But they bounced back against Buffalo on Monday, cruising to a 95-68 win.
  • Michigan ended its game against IUPUI on a 20-2 run, giving the Wolverines a 91-54 win. Trey Burke had 22 points and nine assists
  • What happened to LIU Brooklyn? They're now 0-2 after losing to Lafayette -- while giving up 98 points in the process.

Notebook:

-- If Garrick Sherman can provide solid production behind Jack Cooley at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish will be even better. He went for 22 and nine in just 22 minutes off the bench against Monmouth.

-- Pittsburgh is going to have different weapons hurt you every night. On Friday, it was Talib Zanna with the production – but on Monday, J.J. Moore came off the bench to score 20 points against Fordham.

-- Virginia needs Jontel Evans back. Without him, the Cavaliers are not the same team at either end of the court. They came back to beat Fairfield on Monday, but it wasn't easy.

-- Trevor Mbakwe is clearly still not 100 percent. He went for six points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes on Monday against Toledo.

-- Javan Felix is not Myck Kabongo, but he's doing a decent job as a fill-in. He had 10 points and nine boards in the opener, and went for nine assists in a win over Coppin State on Monday.

 
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