Klay goes for 43 as Cougs win Great Alaska Shootout

 

ESPN.com Recap

UPDATE: I thought I'd throw in a couple of thoughts now that I've had time to actually see the game (Thanks to FSN for a replay this afternoon).

A lot of you might be wondering how Klay did it. Simply, he shot the lights out. He made shots when he was open, and he made shots when he wasn't so open. San Diego's defense was faulty at times, leaving Klay wide open on a couple of occasions. That was an especially egregious offense late in the second half, when everyone in the arena knew who the hottest man on the floor was. Nevertheless, this performance had more to do with Klay playing a spectacular game than the Toreros playing poor defense. Remember, San Diego is a team that prides itself on solid defense, and has had some tough battles with Gonzaga since Bill Grier left the Zags to become their head coach.

Most of Klay's damage was done on jump shots. 24 of the points came from threes, but Klay also displayed a turnaround jumper inside the arc that is virtually indefensible. He didn't have to be overly aggressive getting to the rim; he was shooting so well that he just didn't have to do it. Or get to the foul line for that matter, where he only had three points.

Klay's 43 sets the record for a single game in the Great Alaska Shootout, of which he was named the MOP. It was also the Cougars' first tournament win as a team in the G.A.S.

One of the things the Cougars had trouble with, at least in the first two games of the shootout, was burying their opponents with a prolonged scoring run. Tonight, it wasn't an issue, and I believe it had a lot to do with the Cougars locking the game down on defense. With 17:12 left, this was a close game, with WSU leading 43-41. By the time the clock hit 2:24, the Cougars went on, if you can believe it, a 43-10 run to blow the game wide open. A lot of it had to do with tough interior defense. Almost nothing underneath the basket was getting by DeAngelo Casto, Abe Lodwick and the Cougars' taller guards. The Toreros had some open perimeter shots, but they were few and far between, and when they did they couldn't capitalize.

And, of course, the Cougars had Klay Thompson.

Player of the Game: Klay. Thompson. 43 points on 16/24 shooting (8/13 3pt, 3/4 FTs), 5 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals.

Unsung Hero: Reggie Moore. The only other Coug in double figures had 16 points on 5 of 6 shooting. He also contributed 5 assists, 2 boards and 6 steals.

Play of the Game: Klay came off a screen to bury a three with 2:58 to play, giving him the single-game scoring record in the Great Alaska Shootout. It also put the Cougars up 84-51.

It was over when... With 7:40 left, Reggie Moore poked the ball free from San Diego's De'Jon Jackson and into the arms of Xavier Thames. Thames returned the favor by firing an outlet pass to the streaking Moore, who took it the distance for a dunk. The Cougs led 72-49 and erased any USD hopes for a comeback.

Stat of the Game: The Cougs' offensive efficiency rating of 137.6 is the highest its been in a single game since kenpom.com started cataloging the stat in 2003. Oh, and San Diego is only the 58th best team in the nation for defensive efficiency this season.

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