Kyle Wiltjer played Georgia three times while at Kentucky, so maybe he knew something the rest of his Gonzaga teammates didn't. The junior transfer scored a career high 32 points to push his Bulldogs past those from the SEC.
The Zags looked unfazed by the bright lights of the Big Apple in the opening moments, taking an efficient 12-2 lead in the first four minutes. While the Zags maintained around a ten point cushion for the duration of the half, Georgia wasn't going away. After outscoring the first four teams they played 202-89 in the first half, Gonzaga managed just a 13 point lead at the break over Georgia.
Foul trouble struck the Zags, particularly their bigs. Last season that would have been deadly, but tonight their depth proved up to task. Domantas Sabonis (14 points per game before tonight) was stuck to the bench after picking up two first half fouls.
Sabonis — four points tonight — eventually fouled out of the game, along with Przemek Karnowski and Gary Bell.
Gonzaga and Georgia combined for 54 personal fouls, 27 a piece.
The Kyle Wiltjer show continued after intermission. He opened the second half with six straight points. Those were followed by a Kevin Pangos free throw that pushed the lead to 53-35.
Pangos committed his first turnover of the season in the second half.
Georgia refused to go away, however, and gave the Zags their first test of the season.
With the foul trouble up front for the Zags, Georgia forward Nemanja Djurisic found space to work in the paint. While Djurisic was working down low and keeping possessions alive, junior guard Charles Mann was working on his team high 23 points.
The Zags shooting fell off in the second half. They finished with an uncharacteristically low shooting percentage of exactly 50%.
Kenny Gaines must have forgotten this was a basketball game with 4:42 to play when he pulled some flying kung-fu move on Josh Perkins. Gaines leapt into the air and threw his knee into the face of a driving Perkins. Both players fell hard but eventually got up, though neither returned to the game.
Perkins was taken to the locker room for treatment. Gaines, though somehow managing to avoid a flagrant, was forced to the bench with five fouls.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported from the sidelines that the Gonzaga staff would be running tests to see if Perkins' jaw had been broken.
The Zags brought the game back under control after that scary moment. Georgia's offense fell flat as the Zags worked the clock.
Gonzaga, now 5-0, moves on to the NIT Season Tip-Off championship where they will face St. John's on Friday. Georgia falls to 3-2.