Gonzaga sets 3-point record in beating Iowa State; 6-0 suggests good seed in March
Bulldogs have started 6-0 three previous times under Mark Few, each time leading to huge year
A solid all-around Feast Week of college hoops wrapped up Sunday with one of the most watchable and dramatic games of this young season so far. A ranked affair in the final of the AdvoCare Invitational between No. 11 Gonzaga and No. 21 Iowa State finished with a two-point spread, 73-71, in favor of Gonzaga.
Iowa State never had the lead, but it had five attempts in the final two minutes to tie or take the lead. This after roaring to a 15-0 second-half run led by Deonte Burton (more on him below). All in all, Orlando was treated to a good tournament.
1. History shows a 6-0 start for Gonzaga indicates a good prophecy.
Mark Few is in his 18th season as the Bulldogs' coach. This is the fourth time in his tenure that Gonzaga has managed to win its first six games. A 6-0 start for any team usually means you've got a good team. But for Gonzaga, it's more than that. Here's how Gonzaga has fared in previous seasons it started 6-0:
2008-09: Finished 28-6, lost in Sweet 16 to UNC as a 4 seed.
2012-13: Finished 32-3, lost in second round to Wichita State as a 1 seed.
2014-15: Finished 35-3, lost in Elite Eight to Duke as a 2 seed.
So, on average, when Gonzaga has started 6-0, it has won 32 games, been a No. 2 seed and reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Given the team's personnel, schedule to come and a decent West Coast Conference this year, you have to think Few's going to have a good chance yet again at landing a nice seed.
Also, Gonzaga is 9-0 all time in this event, having won it in 2008 and 2012. November bracket play means a lot to coaches, and with good reason.
2. Gonzaga's offense led to a record-setting 13 3-points.
Never in the history of the AdvoCare tournament (previously the Old Spice Classic; the event began in 2006) had a team connected on 13 3-balls. Gonzaga did so on 25 tries. It was a big-time factor. Gonzaga's long-ball ability will be a big reason why this team should clear 25 wins again. Every GU starter -- yes, even maybe the largest human in college basketball, Przemek Karnowski -- took a 3. On the season Gonzaga is averaging 39 percent from 3. Good gains to this point; last year's team shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Three GU players scored in double figures, led by Nigel Willaims-Goss' 18 points. Iowa State's defense is coming around. The way it plugged a lot of holes in the second half was a positive sign for the Cyclones, but Gonzaga's knack for getting just enough on O in crunch time was a big development.
"I think for everybody who plays in these top preseason tournaments, they are are awesome opportunities to grow," Mark Few said on ESPN in the postgame interview. "Your team comes together, you play high-level competition. Florida and Iowa State are teams I think are going to play in the second week of the tournament, and you learn a lot about your team."
3. Iowa State still looks like it could be the second best team in the Big 12.
After ISU took out a good Miami club on Friday, I laid out why this team deserves its ranking. I'm not coming off that stance, even with ISU's loss here. The comeback was impressive. The D was strong. Deonte Burton was all over the place (29 points, 12 rebounds, a lot of timely plays). His ability to score at all three levels is X factor-ish for the Clones. Monte Morris hasn't been needed to be a Superman-like player, and that's a great development for ISU.
Iowa State is going to play small, mostly, but it will be helped by all those vets. Burton playing like he did on Sunday is a must in the big picture. Getting 15 and 8 from him on average would go a long, long way to putting Iowa State in the 2 slot behind Kansas in the Big 12. It will have company with Baylor and West Virginia, but the difference is those teams don't have two guys who can just take over a game the way Morris and Burton can. This should be the second best team in the conference this season.
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