Blue Devils stifle Zags with defense
Mark Few, the Gonzaga coach, has a philosophy of playing a tough nonconference schedule in order to prepare his team for an appearance down...
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Mark Few, the Gonzaga coach, has a philosophy of playing a tough nonconference schedule in order to prepare his team for an appearance down the road in the NCAA tournament.
Thursday night, in a 61-54 defeat against No. 6 Duke, the No. 22 Zags got a taste of what life could be like come March.
"That was a tough, hard-nosed basketball game and definitely more of a grinder game than we have been in," Few said.
While the Zags were able to play tough, hard-nose defense to stay with the Blue Devils in the Aeropostale Classic at Madison Square Garden, their efforts on the offensive end weren't up to standards that would survive in March.
Derek Raivio, Gonzaga's leading scorer, was held to a season-low four points on 1-for-4 shooting from the field. Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga's 6-foot-10 presence inside, never got untracked and scored just 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting. As the team, the Zags were 22 of 57 (38.5 percent) from the field. From three-point range, usually a gold mine for Gonzaga, the Bulldogs (9-4) were just 1 for 7.
"We are trying to play in big games and big environments that mimic the NCAA tournament," Few said. "That game had an NCAA tournament feel to it, with somewhat of a neutral floor and teams away from home. Two teams going at it really hard, playing hard and wanting it. Their guys stepped up and made plays down the stretch."
The one Blue Devil who stepped up the most was Greg Paulus, who finished the game with five stitches in his chin and a wide smile on his face.
The sophomore point guard scored a career-high 20 points to help Duke improve to 11-1.
The stitches for Paulus that came after a dive into a courtside table chasing a loose ball were an afterthought. The 6-foot-1 point guard had one thing on his mind.
"We got the win," he said with a smile when asked if this was his best game of the season. "No. It's up there."
On the defensive end, the star for Duke was freshman guard Jon Scheyer, who had the main assignment on Raivio, held to 16 points below his season average.
"We tried to chase him, make him work for everything he got," Paulus said. "We had guys switching whenever he put the ball on the floor."
Scheyer finished with 14 points, while Josh McRoberts had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Jeremy Pargo had 21 points for the Bulldogs.
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