Gonzaga and Memphis play each other almost every February, a tradition that dates back to the days when John Calipari led the Tigers. Normally one of the marquee non-conference match-ups outside of the power-five conferences, this year's game had lost a bit of its luster.
The Zags are ranked number three in the nation; Memphis has just 13 wins.
Still, it provided both teams with a chance to play against a team that runs a style completely foreign to what they experience in their leagues. Memphis is far more athletic than any team Gonzaga will face down the stretch. Gonzaga is far more, well... better at everything pertaining to basketball than any team Memphis will face down the stretch.
Gonzaga's array of offensive weapons was on display tonight. Early in the game the Zags fed Przemek Karnowski in the paint relentlessly. 11 of his 17 points came in the first half. When he wasn't scoring from the field, he was drawing fouls.
The first half crawled along in a low scoring fashion. Memphis wouldn't let the Zags pull a double-digit lead until late in the half.
The Tigers flat-lined at 22 points, where they would stay for over four minutes down the stretch of the first. During that time the Zags ran off on a 10-0 run to take a 16 point lead.
Memphis did manage to hold the Zags in check from long range during the first half. Kyle Wiltjer hit a three to get the scoring started, and Kyle Dranginis knocked one down to close out the half, but the Zags only attempted two others all half.
During the first the Zags scored 24 points in the paint.
Gonzaga's backcourt would not be kept quiet forever. With a comfortable lead hovering around 20 points during the second half, the guards had a green light and they lit it up. Six of the Zags 12 second half threes fell. Oddly enough, just one game after setting the all-time three point record at Gonzaga, Kevin Pangos went 0-5 from deep.
Five players scored in double-figures for the Zags en route to a 1.139 points per possession outing.
Meanwhile, the Zags defense was once again quietly impressive. Memphis shot just 35% from the field and scored 0.865 points per possession. Memphis both out-shot and out-rebounded the Zags but it wasn't nearly enough. The Tigers took bad shots and the Zags didn't have enough misses on offense to tally many offensive boards.
Both teams made 26 field goals but Memphis needed 74 shots to get there, Gonzaga took just 47.
Memphis this season might not be on the level we're accustomed to, but the Zags had no problems with them. Another good win for Gonzaga, which is now 22-1 on the season.