Gonzaga woke up in the second half of its opening round matchup against South Dakota State after holding a close 26-22 lead at halftime, putting away the Jackrabbits in a 66-46 victory.
It took almost a half for No. 1 seed Gonzaga to enforce its will against No. 16 South Dakota State, but once the Zags did they bulled their way to a 66-46 win in the NCAA Tournament first round at Vivint Arena on Thursday.
South Dakota State: Daum had a team-leading 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting and seven rebounds.
The Zags come into the tournament as the West Coast Conference regular season and tournament champions, and now they've got their eyes on the big prize. He was named the Summit League player of the year and enters the NCAA tournament averaging 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Gonzaga was incredible all season, finishing on a 9-1 run over its last 10 games to go 32-1 on the year. Center Przemek Karnowski, who finished with 10 points, scored three straight buckets for the Bulldogs (33-1) to help them expand the lead to 20 with 5 minutes left, and it was over. He's just out there playing basketball and having fun as we all are. In nearly a minute the 7-foot freshman scored six straight points to give the Zags their first lead of the game, 23-22.
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"He is great defender from the film that we have watched, and I'm super excited - Coach is going to have us on the move the entire time, so it will just be fun to see us all over the court and see how they defend us and everything we throw at them". The Commodores have the most losses for an at-large team and got in with some margin for error as a ninth seed.
Mark Few has plenty of talent to work with, including point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who was one of the most valuable players in college basketball this season. Oddly, the Bulldogs average nine offensive rebounds per game, far below the national average. "We knew on the defensive end we were doing our jobs, and eventually, the shots were going to fall", Collins said. Reed Tellinghuisen, a 6-6 junior guard/forward, is the only other player in double figures at 11.9.
"That was a confident, well-coached, tough team", Few said. The 17 points for the Daum were the fewest he's scored since February 1.
Whoever comes away the champ in this West Region game will face the No. 8 Northwestern - No. 9 Vanderbilt victor in the round of 32 on March 18.