Mens Basketball: Gonzaga 97, Texas Southern 69 - D1SportsNet


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Mens basketball

Gonzaga 97, Texas Southern 69

Gonzaga is without three starters from last season's team that made the national championship game, but the 18th-ranked Bulldogs did not show signs of having to rebuild against Texas Southern on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

Gonzaga looks to be in reloading mode instead as junior guard Josh Perkins, a returning starter along with forward Johnathan Williams, led the Bulldogs with 20 points in a 97-69 win at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.

Sophomore forward Killian Tillie, a top reserve last season, had a career-high 12 rebounds. Sophomore forward Rui Hachimura added a career-high 11 points. Williams contributed 16 points and eight rebounds for Gonzaga, which is coming off a 37-2 season that ended with a loss to North Carolina in the NCAA title game.

Gonzaga shot 48.6 percent from the field, including 44 percent from 3-point range, and outrebounded Texas Southern 57-35.

"This is a new group but our veterans know what it's like to get there, so it's exciting," said redshirt freshman guard Zach Norvell Jr., who led the Bulldogs with five assists. "Josh knows he has to be more of a leader and that showed in this game."

Perkins shot 7 of 13 from the field, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range.

"Josh hit some big shots and took care of the ball for the most part, although he had four turnovers," Gonzaga assistant coach Donnie Daniels told Gonzaga's IMG radio affiliate after the game. "He must be the leader of this team. At one point, we had five straight turnovers in the first half.

"That's where Josh has to come in and settle the team down. He needs to take that responsibility of settling us down."

Gonzaga tallied 21 assists with 14 turnovers (only three in the second half) while Texas Southern accumulated only five assists with 10 turnovers.

Texas Southern 5-foot-7 guard Demontrae Jefferson had 20 points to lead the Tigers. Three other players scored in double figures -- center Trayvon Reed (13 points), guard Donte Clark (13) and forward Kevin Scott (11).

Clark, a graduate transfer from the University of Massachusetts, and Reed each had seven rebounds to lead Texas Southern, which is a preseason favorite to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

The Tigers are playing their first 13 games of the season on the road, as is customary with their schedule to get additional money from Power 5 opponents to bolster their budget. They also use the experience to be more competitive in the SWAC.

"Playing teams like Gonzaga prepares our guys for the conference season," Texas Southern coach Mike Davis said. "That's the most important thing for us, is to try to win our conference regular season and our conference tournament."

Gonzaga never trailed against Davis' team after taking an 11-10 lead with 15:24 left in the first half.

The Bulldogs pulled away late in the first half by going on a 13-2 run to take a 52-31 halftime lead. Perkins had two 3-pointers and Williams added four points in that run.

NOTES: Texas Southern starts the season with 13 games on the road, including matchups with Gonzaga, Ohio State, Syracuse, Kansas, Clemson, Oregon, Baylor, TCU and BYU. The Tigers' first home game is Jan. 1 when they begin play in the SWAC against Southern. ... Gonzaga has won 29 consecutive regular-season home openers since a 73-65 loss to Boise State on Dec. 7, 1988. ... Gonzaga senior Johnathon Williams finished with 16 points Friday night. He is two points shy of reaching 1,000 points in his career. ... Former Indiana coach Mike Davis remains one win shy of reaching his 100th win at Texas Southern. He is 99-70 with the Tigers in his sixth season. His 18-year coaching record, including a stop at Alabama-Birmingham, is 336-222.