November 27, 2014

Gonzaga hasn't had much trouble so far this season, but that may change against St. John's in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship.

Kyle Wiltjer goes for another impressive performance as the No. 10 Bulldogs attempt to solve the Red Storm's stifling defense Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Gonzaga (5-0) has been dominant through five games, scoring an average of 93.4 points and outscoring opponents by 36.0 per game. The Bulldogs are practically having their way with opponents offensively, sinking 55.1 percent of their shots, including 41.0 percent from behind the arc.

They hit 50.0 percent Wednesday and weren't in much danger in coasting to their 88-76 semifinal win over Georgia.

Wiltjer is looking to build on his career-high 32 points and senior Kevin Pangos added a season-high 22. Both players logged heavy minutes - Wiltjier matching a career high with 35 and Pangos 38 - after the duo played sparingly in Gonzaga's previous two blowout victories.

Wiltjier, who entered the game averaging 13.0 points, had 14 of Gonzaga's 26 baskets, and Pangos also contributed six assists and three steals.

Pangos has totaled 29 assists against just one turnover - which occurred Wednesday - in 133 minutes.

"They were playing one-on-one coverage in the post and Kevin (Pangos) did a great job of feeding us down there," Wiltjer said. "Not a lot of my 3s went down, but Kevin was finding me on those pocket passes on open side ball screens. They were having a tough time guarding us down low so we just tried to keep going at it and that's where we got easy points."

Gonzaga should face a much stiffer test since St. John's (4-0) allows just 63.3 points per game and 34.5 percent shooting.

The Zags are 3-1 all-time against St. John's, winning three straight, with the most recent victory coming in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA tournament against the sixth-seeded Red Storm.

St. John's is seeking its first 5-0 start since winning the first six games of the 2009-10 season.

The Red Storm continued their winning ways by beating Minnesota 70-61 on Wednesday, getting 19 points, nine rebounds and six steals from D'Angelo Harrison. The senior guard, though, needed to go 7 for 9 from the line and converted a key four-point play late to overcome a 5-for-17 effort - his worst shooting performance of the season.

"My teammates did a good job of staying with me," said Harrison, who hit 2 of 11 shots in the first half. "They just said shoot the ball. You're a shooter, shoot it."

Despite leading St. John's with an average of 18.5 points, Harrison is shooting just 38.5 percent.

Raysheed Jordan, however, is averaging 17.5 points while connecting on 47.1 percent from the field. The sophomore guard had 18 points, seven boards, three assists and three steals against the Golden Gophers.

St. John's is in the NIT Season Tip-Off final for the first time since falling to Kansas in 1989, while Gonzaga's only previous appearance in the title game was a loss to Butler in 2006.

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