We’re early in the second half of the Purdue v. Washington second round matchup, and while sitting here taking in the game and the ear-splitting roars from the crowd (we are just three hours from Seattle, you know) I have a few thoughts and facts to shoot your way:
- Though Gonzaga is a team with freakish athletes with size to spare and that love to run, the trick may be to slow the pace. It took them 30 minutes in their first-round game against Akron to start pulling away from the Zips, and it was in large part due to Akron moving the ball around in the halfcourt. I had a first-hand look at that game, and even though Akron matched the Bulldogs’ size, they worked an inside-outside game to spread the Gonzaga defense thin in the post. Akron shot 46.7 percent in the first half, including 55.6 from three. The Bulldogs pushed them last, and Akron was held to 25.9 percent in the second half.
- Western has shown the ability to slow a game down and bang it out, something they can take from playing against Illinois. They mustered only 12 total fastbreak points in the Sun Belt tournament, but won it all.
- The Bulldogs, like the the Toppers, aren’t very deep and rely heavily on their starters in big games. Only one reserve played double-digit minutes against Akron, and that was guard Steven Gray, who played 24. He is the team’s sixth-leading scorer at 9.2 ppg. Though it evens out the battle a little bit, this means WKU’s bench is going to have to contribute more to wear down Gonzaga, and with D.J. Magley peaking at the right time and Anthony Sally taking good care of the ball, this could be a recipe for success tonight. WKU has the chance to shock a lot of people and put a big bright smile on Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters’ face.
That’s all for now, but I’ll have more before tip-off at 7:10 CST.