College Basketball Nation: 100319 floridast-gonzaga

BUFFALO -- Robert Sacre, Canadian native, knew exactly what to expect when Gonzaga took the floor against the big bodies of Florida State.

[+] EnlargeMatt Bouldin
Rick Stewart/Getty ImagesBouldin led Gonzaga with 17 points in a close win over Florida State.
“I knew coming to Buffalo it was going to be a Sabres game, basically,’’ Sacre said.

The Zags almost let one slip through the five hole.

Gonzaga surrendered all but the last bits of an 18-point lead before finally staving off Florida State, 67-60.

Gonzaga won by doing what no one else has been able to do against the Seminoles –- shoot the ball. The Bulldgos sliced and diced the Seminoles for 50 percent shooting for the game, ending a run of 67 consecutive opponents held under 50 by FSU.

And they did it by making the easy buckets. Sacre and Elias Harris combined for 26 points (13 apiece) as the Zags scored 24 of their points in the paint and just nine from the arc.

“Anytime you get easy buckets and shoot high-percentage shots, it’s a lot easier,’’ Matt Bouldin.

Still the comeback or near choke (depending on your team colors) was slightly alarming. Sharpshooting Deividas Dulkys nearly single-handedly brought the Seminoles back, scoring 11 in the final five minutes, including a 3-pointer that kissed off the glass.

“I thought, ‘He didn’t. … he didn’t just bank that in?'’’ Steven Gray said.

The Seminoles inability to hit free throws in an endgame clank fest and the late rally ended up being their undoing but not before the Zags were forced to get their act back together.

Gonzaga travels the country in the regular season just to prepare for the rigors of March and while Mark Few praised his team’s poise, the end game should raise a few red flags considering what could be next -– No. 1 seed Syracuse in essentially a home game.

“It was a little combination of things," said Gray, who finished with 15 points. “We had a little drought there and I think we also got a little panicked and rushed. We forced some things that we shouldn’t have."

BUFFALO -- Some quick post-game reactions.

  • Note to Gonzaga: This sort of effort won't fly against Syracuse (presuming the presumable win over Vermont). The shooting part is great, but the complete loss of focus late and the crummy defensive effort in the end will equate to a disaster against the Orange. Syracuse isn't going to let Gonzaga shoot 50 percent from the floor, either so relying on scoring won't get it done.
  • Elias Harris has to be involved for 40 minutes, not 20. Harris had 11 at the halftime break and 11 still with under four minutes to play. He finished with 13. The big man is critical to Gonzaga's success. Ditto Robert Sacre. He only had 5 in the second half. Again, if the Zags play Syracuse and the Cuse don't have Arinze Onuaku, Gonzaga has to be able to expose the inside.
  • Give credit to Florida State for revving up its engine, but also a smack on the head for not playing hard until there was only eight minutes left in the game in an eventual 67-60 loss. If FSU wants to be taken seriously as a player in college basketball, the Seminoles need to come out with a fire from the opening tip.
  • The Seminoles had plenty of opportunities to grab this game, but they clanked free throws and turned the ball over too often.
  • Sophomore Deividas Dulkys nearly summoned a comeback by himself. The sharpshooter scored 11 points in the final five minutes to reignite the crowd and the Seminoles. But again, too little too late.

Halftime: Gonzaga 35, FSU 19

March, 19, 2010
BUFFALO -- Some quick halftime observations here from the nightcap opener:

  • Florida State is winning the battle but not the war. This game is playing at a pace to the Seminoles' liking but while FSU is limiting Gonzaga's possessions, it's not stopping the scoring. Gonzaga is shooting 54 percent for the half, a significant number considering the Seminoles have held their last 67 opponents to under 50 percent from the floor.
  • The problem for defensive-minded Florida State is scoring. Sometimes you have to score in this game and the Seminoles can't. Florida State is 6 of 28 from the floor and scored its fewest points in a half since Marquette held the Noles to 18 in November.