College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, February 9, 2012
Official attendance for Gonzaga's showdown with St. Mary's was quoted at 6,000, but inside the McCarthy Athletic Center in Spokane, Washington, it sounded more like 60,000 and the home Bulldogs treated the guest Gaels like they weren't invited.
Before a loud and often deafening crowd, freshman guard Kevin Pangos pumped in 27 points to lead Gonzaga to a 73-59 pummeling of #13 St. Mary's the leaders in the race for the West Coast Conference title.
St. Mary's came into the game riding a 12 game winning streak with an unbeaten, 10-0 record in the conference and a two game lead over the Zags, but Pangos and his fellow Gaels took St. Mary's dazzling point guard, Matthew Deledevoda out of his game, limited the Gaels to 38% shooting, and, with the win, may have secured themselves another trip to the NCAA tourney.
Earlier in the season, St. Mary's had treated the Bulldogs with disdain, pounding them, 83-62, and taking control of the top spot in the conference, but Thursday night, on their home floor, the Zags were clearly the better team, shooting 53% and out-rebounding St. Mary's 40-26.
Pangos, a speedy sharpshooter who is also developing into a slashing driver, was 8-for-16 from the field, making five of six of his three-pointers and going 6-for-6 from the line, along with four boards, two assists and a pair of steals.
The win upped Gonzaga's record to 19-4 overall and 9-2 in the conference. With non-conference wins over Notre Dame, Butler and Arizona on their resume, the Bulldogs appear poised to re-enter the Top 25 next week and ride a wave of confidence through the remainder of the season and into tournament play.
They still trail St. Mary's by a game in the conference schedule, but will likely face them again in the WCC tournament, the winner receiving an automatic bad to the the NCAA tourney.
NOTABLE: The last of the undefeated teams in Division I finally met its match as #7 Murray State fell to Tennessee Tech, 72-68, despite 31 points from Isaiah Canaan. The Racers entered the game at 23-0 with a stranglehold on the Ohio Valley conference. Following the loss, their lead is still 2 1/2 games over Tennessee State with just four more conference tilts left on the schedule, the final three of those on the road. The non-conference game with St Mary's on February 18 is of particular importance as both the Gaels and the Racers will be looking for a signature win to ensure a trip to the big dance.