College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon: No. 23 Gonzaga vs. Washington State

11:58 – We’re lucky enough to get this thing started with a game featuring a ranked squad, as the ’Zags host a Washington State team that beat them by 22 last season.

Gonzaga enters the evening at 1-0 after a tougher-than-expected 77-69 win over Eastern Washington last Friday. It’s the season-opener for Wazzu, which will be trying to adjust to life without Klay Thompson, who left for the NBA after averaging 21.6 points during his junior season.

I’ll take the ’Zags by 12 and Doris Burke drawing heavy, largely undeserved criticism on Twitter.

Also, I’ve already polished off a burrito, a root beer and a nerd rope. This has all the makings of a legendary performance.

12:01 - J. Cole gets the call on the tip-off marathon anthem. Really wish they would have just re-used Nick Lachey's Big East Tournament diddy from last year. I mean it was awful - I can't even pretend to turn this into a joke about me genuinely wanting to hear it because it was that bad - but, you know, I could use the laugh. It's midnight.

12:13 - Gonzaga up 11-3, but big Rob Sacre is sidelined with two early fouls. Speaking of Sacre, read this during the Northridge/Hawaii game.

12:22 - The inside presence of Sacre and Elias Harriswas supposed to be the major advantage for Gonzaga here, but instead they've scored 18 of their 20 points via the three-point shot. This would be a solid development for a team playing one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country. It's 20-10, Bulldogs.

12:30 - Nine threes already for Gonzaga, which leads 32-19 with five and-a-half to play in the first...uh, half. The 'Zags will struggle with athletic teams that can force their guards to try and make plays off the dribble. They won't struggle with teams that refuse to defend the perimeter.

12:35 - Kevin Pangos is the Jimmer Fredette of the 2011 college hoops tip-off marathon. You heard it here first. Take it to the bank. Other Internet idiom expressing unfounded confidence. Pangos has 15.

12:50 - Rob Sacre hardly plays because of two early fouls, but Gonzaga still leads 41-32 at the break. Ten of the Bulldogs' 13 field goals were three-pointers. 'Zag freshman Kevin Pangos leads all scorers with 18 points. Brock Motum leads Wazzu with 10. He also dunked, which was fun.

12:56 - Meanwhile, Nebraska and USC are so angry their game wasn't selected for the marathon that they're taking it out on the entire sport. It's 54-54...in the second overtime. Just three players have scored in double figures.

1:13 - Gonzaga starting to do what they thought they would all along and assert themselves inside. It's 51-37 and things are getting a tad chippy, which is enjoyable at 1:15 in the morning.

1:15 - Pangos has now hit seven three-pointers, just two shy of Dan Dickau's single-game record of nine. Dude's about to get so much Pangos after this. It's 53-37, 'Zags.

1:25 - Eight threes and 26 points for Pangos, who was the youngest player to ever suit up for the Canadian National Team. Just his second college game. Heads up. 'Zags by 21 as we head towards the under 12.

1:38 - Pangos isn't getting looks and Washington State is kind of making a run. They need to stop messing around or stop guarding Pangos in order to keep interest up.

1:39 - Cougs answer the bell and let Pangos bury his ninth three to tie Dickau's record. Kid is 9-of-13 from deep in his second college game. He's got 29 points and six assists and his team is up 70-56 at the under eight timeout.

1:49 - Gonzaga has led this game by between 12-16 points since 10 p.m. on Monday night. I'm not sure how that's possible, but I'm certain that's the case. 77-65 'Zags with 4:52 to play.

1:54 - I take it back. I take all of it back. Washington State is within seven at 77-70 at the 3:30 mark.

1:55 - I TAKE IT BACK EVEN MORE. It's a 14-2 Wazzu run and all of the sudden we have a four-point game.

2:03 - Reggie Moore gets fouled on a three and buries all three freebies to cut the lead to 81-78 with just over a minute to go. Gonzaga really should have put this one away five minutes ago.

2:12 - 'Zags do just enough down the stretch to hold on and make the final score look semi-respectable at the same time. Gonzaga 89, Washington State 81 is your final. Still, not the overall performance Mark few was looking for. Kevin Pangos isn't going to hit nine threes and score 33 points every night (he did in this game), which means Sacre and Harris have got to be better than they were this morning.

Game Rating: 7

Yeah, Gonzaga should have made this one not as entertaining as it was, but they didn't, and it all worked out well for the rest of us. The Pangos show and the Cougar rally made this an extremely solid start to the marathon.

Prediction Result: 1-0

Consumption: 1 root beer, 1 vitamin water, 1 burrito, 1 nerd rope.

Moving on...

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