BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A few halftime observations from an entertaining and fast-paced early game here at the HSBC Arena.
Mark Few ought to forbid his guards from shooting. Flat-out say no. They are 2 of 9 from the arc and absolutely failing miserably at penetrating the Syracuse zone. After working patiently to get the ball inside to Robert Sacre and Elias Harris to start the game, the Zags are launching jumpers to the sheer joy of the Orange. All this while Rick Jackson sits on the bench with foul trouble.
The Zags have 20 points to Syracuse's 16 in the paint. It's a clear advantage that worked well early and is the only way Gonzaga will get back in this game. The Bulldogs need to try and force Jackson into his fourth foul.
Credit DaShonte Riley. He's not exactly art in motion but the little-used freshman stemmed the tide ably while Jackson hit the seats. He has an assist and a steal, and yes, a few mistakes, but the Orange aren't any worse for it.
Wes Johnson looks like the guy who made jaws drop in November/December. The electrifying soon-to-be draft pick has 15 points, shooting with the kind of confidence he showed before a hand injury made everything so difficult. The Zags don't have anybody who can guard him but have done a poor job of even trying, leaving him wide open for three 3-pointers.
A little defense wouldn't be a bad thing for the Bulldogs, either. Syracuse is torching the Zags with 60 percent shooting from the floor and 50 percent from the arc. No way no how Cuse loses when it shoots like that.