Path to the Tourney: A Look Back at Gonzaga's Season
by Josh Liebeskind, SWX Content Coordinator - email
Kelly Olynyk led Gonzaga to a 31-2 record and an AP No. 1 ranking this season.
Gonzaga doesn't officially find out its seed in the NCAA tournament until Sunday, but before the madness arrives, let's take a look back on how the Bulldogs arrived to this point.
The season started with a bang for the No. 21 Bulldogs, as they eclipsed the century mark in a 103-65 win over Southern Utah. It was Przemek Karnowski, not Kelly Olynyk (he was suspended for the first three games), who made a case to fill Robert Sacre's shoes. Karnowski, a freshman, scored 22 points in the opener.
Olynyk returned from his suspension in time to face Clemson in the Old Spice Classic. The eventual WCC Player of the Year scored 13 points and grabbed three rebounds in 24 minutes. It was the first game time in over a year for Olynyk, who redshirted the 2011-2012 season.
Kevin Pangos played hero for the Bulldogs, as his layup with a couple seconds left provided the winning bucket in a 71-69 victory at Washington State. The win gave Gonzaga its best start in Division I history, at 9-0.
Gonzaga suffered its first loss of the season, an 85-74 home loss to Illinois. It was the Bulldogs' first game against a ranked team and raised questions of how good Gonzaga actually was.
Gonzaga responded from its first loss with a dismantling of Kansas State at KeyArena in Seattle. Any questions if Gonzaga was as good as its ranking were put to rest, as Kelly Olynyk scored 20 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 68-52 win. Gonzaga's defense was impressive, as the Wildcats were never able to get their offense going.
A Gary Bell Jr., 3-pointer with 35.7 seconds remaining gave Gonzaga its only win over a ranked team this season. The 69-68 win over No. 22 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., is even more impressive now, considering the way the Cowboys' season progressed.
Gonzaga's second, and final, loss of the regular season came at Butler in heartbreaking fashion, as Roosevelt Jones stole an inbounds pass and hit a floater at the buzzer to give Butler the win.
The Bulldogs took control of the WCC with a 77-60 Valentine's Day win over Saint Mary's. Kelly Olynyk continued to make his case as Player of the Year with 17 points and seven rebounds.
What turned out to be Gonzaga's last true regular-season test, the Bulldogs held off BYU in Provo, Utah for a 70-65 win. In a typical Mike Hart game, the former walk-on did not score, but grabbed eight rebounds in 28 minutes.
The Bulldogs completed its perfect run through WCC play with a 65-51 win over Saint Mary's in the conference tournament championship game. The win solidified Gonzaga's claim to a No. 1 seed.
Monday, May 13 2013 1:15 AM EDT2013-05-13 05:15:33 GMT
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