NCAA

No. 21 Saint Mary's routed by undefeated Gonzaga

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USATSI

No. 21 Saint Mary's routed by undefeated Gonzaga

BOX SCORE

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Zach Collins said No. 5 Gonzaga wanted to make a statement against No. 21 Saint Mary's on Saturday night.

"There was a lot of hype going into this game," Collins said, after the Zags beat Saint Mary's 79-56.

"We were hoping to come in and make a statement to the rest of the conference and the rest of the country. We know how to win."

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 19 points and added six assists to help Gonzaga win its 17th game in a row, the longest streak in the nation.

"We are as good as we think we are," Williams-Goss said. "We are a group with a lot of confidence."

Jordan Mathews added 16 points, Johnathan Williams had 14 and Collins 10 for Gonzaga (17-0, 5-0 West Coast).

Jock Landale was held to 10 points and was in foul trouble much of the game for Saint Mary's (15-2, 5-1), which saw a nine-game winning streak broken. Calvin Hermanson led the Gaels with 12 points.

This game was seen as one of the major barriers remaining for the Zags as they seek to go undefeated through the regular season. The teams play again at Saint Mary's on Feb. 11.

Saint Mary's has never beaten an opponent ranked higher than No. 9.

Gonzaga shot 64.7 percent in the game, while holding Saint Mary's to just 39.7 percent. Gonzaga coach Mark Few was asked which achievement was greater.

"They are an excellent defensive team," Few said. "To shoot 65 percent is an amazing night against anybody."

Landale picked up his second foul with 14:22 left in the first and sat out the rest of the half. The Gaels' stayed close for a while, as Hermanson converted a four-point play to tie the score at 18-18.

Saint Mary's sank three straight baskets for a 27-23 lead.

But Mathews' 3-pointer ignited a 12-2 Gonzaga run that gave the Zags a 43-34 lead at halftime.

Landale scored three unanswered baskets early in the second as Saint Mary's cut Gonzaga's lead to 46-40.

Shortly after, Williams-Goss erupted for five quick baskets as Gonzaga took a 63-52 lead, and the Gaels went into a prolonged drought.

Consecutive baskets by Williams lifted Gonzaga to a 67-52 lead with 4:50 left. Saint Mary's made just one of 12 field goal attempts at one point.

"We didn't close the last 10 minutes well at all, and then we lost our composure" Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "It should have been a good game but we didn't do our part to finish it."

POLL IMPLICATIONS:
Gonzaga is making a case to climb in the polls, while Saint Mary's is likely to drop as the game was not as close as anticipated.

STATS:
Gonzaga sank 33 of 51 shots, while the Gaels made just 23 of 58. Saint Mary's made just 6 of 16 from 3-point range.

BIG PICTURE:
Saint Mary's: The Gaels relinquished first place in the West Coast Conference. Saint Mary's is second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 56.6 points per game. Landale was held well below his averages of 17.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs took over first place in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga came in averaging 86 points, with five players averaging in double figures.

HOME COOKING:
Gonzaga is 170-13 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.

UP NEXT:
Saint Mary's hosts Pacific on Thursday.

Gonzaga plays at Santa Clara on Thursday.

Pac-12 to experiment with ways to shorten football games

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AP

Pac-12 to experiment with ways to shorten football games

LOS ANGELES -- The Pac-12 will shorten halftime and reduce the number of commercial breaks during its non-conference schedule this season as part of a trial program to reduce the length of its football games.

Halftime will be 15 minutes long, cut down from the usual 20-minute break. The number of commercial breaks will be reduced and they will be shorter in length, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday.

Scott announced the initiative as the Pac-12 kicked off its media days in Hollywood. The experiment is intended to shorten ballooning game times in an era of up-tempo offenses running more plays and the increased scoring that comes with it.

"Just because metrics show robust ratings and attendance doesn't mean we shouldn't be experimenting and piloting with formats that will keep the sport attractive," Scott said. "It's incumbent on us to look at the presentation of the sport and make sure the pace of play is moving as much as possible and without changing the fundamentals of the game."

Scott did not completely dismiss potential rule changes in the future to address the length of games, saying that the upcoming experiment was part of a larger, more comprehensive review.

Scott noted that Pac-12 games have averaged nearly 3 hours and 30 minutes, more than 30 minutes longer than NFL games. Some of that discrepancy can be attributed to stopping the clock after first downs in college football, a rule not used in the NFL.

The halftime reduction could be a significant incentive to keep television viewers tuned in. Scott said up to 30 percent of the audience is lost during that break.

The changes could also have a positive effect on stadium attendance since Pac-12 fans have complained about the increase in late starts under the conference's most recent television deal. Fans might be more likely to watch a game in-person on a Thursday or Saturday night if they have a chance to get home before midnight.

For Arizona and Arizona State, which hold their early-season home games after dark to avoid the desert heat, it could mean their fans spend less time in triple-digit temperatures.

Pac-12 coaches consulted about the change did not believe it would hinder their ability to make adjustments at halftime, Scott said.

"I was delighted to hear our coaches feel like 20 minutes is more than they need from a student-athlete health and rest and X's and O's perspective," Scott said.

Scott also announced the league's plans to operate a centralized replay center, joining other conferences in consolidating its video review facilities.

The Pac-12 title game will stay at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, through 2019, Scott said. The league also has the option to hold the 2020 game in Santa Clara.

New Cal coach Wyking Jones ready to prove critics wrong amid changes

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AP

New Cal coach Wyking Jones ready to prove critics wrong amid changes

Even the most passionate Cal fan might struggle to name a single player on the current basketball roster. The team's top five leading scorers from last season have all departed. Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird moved on to the NBA, Grant Mullins graduated, and both Charlie Moore and Kameron Rooks elected to transfer.

But perhaps the most significant change is on the sideline. Out is Cuonzo Martin, who agreed to a massive seven-year contract with Missouri, worth a reported $21 million. Replacing him is 44-year-old Wyking Jones, a longtime assistant coach, who spent the past two seasons as Martin's top aide in Berkeley.

Jones' promotion was met with heavy criticism from many in the media, both locally and nationally. Skeptics believe Cal settled for the cheap option, rather than the best option. But why can't both be true? There's no denying that salary played a factor in the hire - the athletic department's financial troubles have been well documented in recent years. But Jones impressed Athletic Director Mike Williams in other areas too, reportedly acing his job interview with a detailed plan for the program moving forward. And unlike the other candidates, Jones already has direct experience dealing with Cal's unique set of circumstances.

“It's not something that you can walk into and just get a really good grasp of,” Jones explained. “It's a learning curve that, if you walk into this situation for the first time, it would take you a tremendous amount of time. Knowing who to go to when you need things, who's in charge of this, who's in charge of that, just having a familiarity of how to really get things done around here.”

Jones also discovered the challenges of recruiting at a school like Cal, where not every athlete can qualify academically. While many coaches would view that as a negative, Jones chooses to embrace it.

“In my mind, that's what makes this place special,” he said. “It's the number one public institution in the world for a reason. Your recruiting pool shrinks quite a bit, but that's okay because typically what happens is if you get a kid who has a lot of discipline on and off the court, you're not going to run into troubles on the weekends when they're in the dorms. They're usually kids who have a lot of respect for the community and other students.”

From a coaching standpoint, Jones has unquestionably paid his dues in the world of college basketball. Prior to joining Cal as an assistant in 2015, he made stops at Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine, and Loyola Marymount, where he also played from 1991-95. Now, after nearly 15 years in collegiate coaching, Wyking Jones is a head coach.

“I think initially it's very exciting to have an opportunity to coach, have your own program at a storied program like Cal, to follow in the footsteps of some great coaches,” he said, smiling. “But now the smoke has cleared and it's time to get to work.”

That work has already begun. As previously mentioned, Jones will have to replace his top five scorers from a year ago, who accounted for nearly 56 points per game. The Bears will count on increased production from senior center Kingsley Okoroh and junior guard Don Coleman. They will also rely heavily on redshirt senior forward Marcus Lee, who sat out last season after transferring from Kentucky.

“It's an adjustment, for sure,” Jones admitted. “But you have 13 scholarships for a reason. It's just an opportunity for the guys who are still here to earn their scholarship. It's an opportunity for them to make a name for themselves and have an impact on this program.”

Under Cuonzo Martin, Cal established itself as one of the best defensive teams in the country. Last season, the Bears ranked 18th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 63.4 points per game. Jones hopes to continue that trend while also implementing a full-court pressure defense, similar to the one he coached at Louisville, which resulted in a national championship in 2013.

“It's a process,” he acknowledged. “In year one, hopefully we can be good at it. In year two, look to improve. In year three, hope to be great at it... It's a type of defense, when you're talking about pressing, it's reading all the other guys on the court. It's never scripted. It's being able to read when is the right time to go trap, when is the right time to go switch, when is the right time to bluff and stunt at a guy to slow him down. So there's a learning curve in it.”

Jones knows there will also be a learning curve for him personally as a head coach, especially with such a young and inexperienced roster. He expects his team to be overlooked and undervalued by much of the college basketball world, but that's just fine with him.

“I think a lot of people will probably guess that we won't be very good, and that's motivation right there. That's motivation for my staff, for our managers, for the support staff. It's motivation for everybody that's a part of this program to exceed those expectations. So I think that makes for an exciting season.”