SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)—Two home games, two easy wins for No. 9 Gonzaga. Now it gets tough.
The Zags head to the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., where they face the likes of Oklahoma State, No. 5 Michigan State and Maryland.
“It’s the best preseason tournament out there,” coach Mark Few said. “We’ll get a challenge in a lot of different ways.”
They didn’t get much of a challenge from Idaho on Tuesday night, beating the Vandals 80-46 behind 18 points from Micah Downs and 16 from Austin Daye.
Josh Heytvelt added 15 points for the Bulldogs (2-0), who scored the first 17 points of the game.
Mac Hopson led Idaho (1-2) with 19 points, while Kashif Watson added 12. The Vandals shot 29.8 percent in the game, committed 20 turnovers and were outrebounded 47-27.
Idaho got off only five shots in the game’s first seven minutes, and did not score until Marvin Jefferson’s free throw with 12:54 left in the first half.
Idaho got consecutive 3-pointers from Luciano de Souza to pull within 17-7, but Gonzaga outscored the Vandals 30-4 over the final 10 minutes of the first half to take a 47-11 lead.
“That might’ve been as good a 20 minutes of defense as we’ve played in awhile,” Few said.
The 36-point halftime margin was Gonzaga’s biggest since a 39-point lead over San Francisco in 2004. Idaho was just 4-of-21 from the field in the first half and committed 13 turnovers.
“Jeremy Pargo set the tone,” Few said of his point guard and reigning West Coast Conference player of the year. Pargo had eight assists and just three turnovers. He grabbed seven rebounds.
Idaho showed more fire in the second half, opening with an 8-1 run and getting within 53-24. But the Bulldogs pulled away again for a third consecutive easy win in the series. They won by 25 points two years ago and 39 points last season.
Idaho is rebuilding under first-year coach Don Verlin. They lost 100-62 last weekend at Michigan State.
“We knew this road trip—you go to Michigan State and then to Gonzaga— there is probably not another team in the country that is going to go win that road trip,” Verlin said.
The Vandals were 14-of-47 from the field and Gonzaga had nine steals.
“I just thought it was a total team breakdown in every area,” Verlin said.
Gonzaga also got 11 points from Steven Gray and eight from Matt Bouldin, and shot 47 percent.
“We’ve got four or five guys who can get 20 points on any given night,” Downs said. “Nobody worries about who scores.”
“We’ve got enough different weapons,” Few said.
The Zags opened with an easy win over Montana State-Billings. But they don’t play at home again until Dec. 18.
Idaho still leads the series 70-63, but the Vandals’ last win was in 1998.
The Zags are 54-2 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in the 2004-05 season.