A few more takeaways from BYU's 70-65 loss to No. 2 Gonzaga in front of 19,731 folks at the Marriott Center:
* The Cougars are an above-average basketball team, but not a great one. They are capable of playing well at home, but simply not an NCAA Tournament-caliber team this year. They had a puncher's chance last night against the Zags, and took it, just missed. If the teams meet again in Las Vegas, I don't see it being that close.
* Gonzaga is an elite team, certainly deserving of its lofty ranking, but can be beat if its guards aren't hitting their outside shots. As BYU's Dave Rose said, don't expect Kevin Pangos to go 1 for 12 from 3-point range again in his career.
* The game was eerily similar to BYU's last loss -- at Saint Mary's. The Cougars grinded and grinded in the second half to keep it close, but just don't have the big-time playmaker to get it done at crunch time. Tyler Haws might develop in to that, but elite players don't go 0 for 5 with the game on the line. And great teams don't miss nine free throws.
* Brandon Davies is a senior and shouldn't be picking up two fouls in the first three minutes of any game, let alone a huge showdown with a team about to be ranked No. 1 in the country.
"Yeah, just stupid fouls. Just coming out overly excited to play and at the start, that hurt us. You gotta be smarter," Davies admitted.
* That Rose didn't have starting point guard Matt Carlino on the floor for the final 10 minutes of the game spoke volumes about the coach's trust in the inconsistent sophomore, who has not been the same since winning WCC Player of the Week honors a few weeks ago.
"We took Matt out, gave him a rest, and it seemed like we got some momentum, got into a good flow and Craig [Cusick] was running the point pretty well and we just stayed with it. Came up a few plays short," Rose said when asked why Carlino played only 23 minutes despite committing just one foul. He had yanked Carlino after the point guard threw up a 3-pointer early in the shot clock with nobody underneath to rebound.
I posted all of Rose's postgame comments last night. Here are some from Brock Zylstra and Brandon Davies:
Zylstra on similarities to Saint Mary's game, and not making plays down the stretch:
"Yeah, I think we are in a better spot than we were against Saint Mary's. We are playing a lot better even though we have lost two games in a row.
You can ask any one of the guys, or the coaches, we are playing at a better pace, and together as a team.
Down the stretch, we didn't make the plays that we need to, and we were playing the No. 1 team in the nation, coming up here soon, and we had 'em, but they just made plays and we couldn't."
Zylstra on the crowd and the atmosphere:
"It was crazy in there. I mean, there was a time when we were coming to a timeout, and I couldn't hear myself think. I felt like it was so loud. The crowd camping out -- somebody said there were 70 tents out there -- it was a great atmosphere. A lot of credit to our fans, coming out and supporting us. Next time we will provide for them."
Zylstra on having them on the ropes:
"Probably there when we got it to three or two, and the crowd was going nuts, and we were hitting shots and we were making plays. B was getting touches and scoring for us, and we were getting rebounds when we needed to, and it was there. It was anybody's game at that point. A couple rebounds went their way, loose balls went their way, which we should have jumped on. We were there and we had it.
We look forward that if we get the chance to play 'em in Vegas, we will do better."
Zylstra on whether there is any consolation in taking No. 1 team down to the wire:
"I mean, with the loss, I don't know if there is any consolation. Like I said earlier, we are playing more as a team, we are sharing the ball. B is playing great for us. We are playing as a whole a lot better. If you look at the tape from two weeks ago, when we played San Diego and San Francisco, we are playing 100 times better than that.
I mean, two losses don't reflect that, but we know who we are, and we know how we are playing."
Davies on playing his last home game (possibly):
"It was crazy. It didn't really hit you until you are walking out there with your family and your fellow seniors. It feels like a normal game until you are out there, and just like Brock said, you gotta give our fans a lot of credit for coming out and supporting us."
Davies on what it will take to match Gonzaga's dominance:
"We got to find ourselves as a team. Like Brock said, we are just finding ourselves and playing how we should be playing all year. If you want to be among the elite, you gotta put it together from the beginning of the season."
Davies on the atmosphere out there:
"Yeah, it was crazy. Our fans are great. Like Brock said, there were points in the game where you couldn't hear a thing, and I got nothing but respect for our fans. They are always there for us."
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