The Bulldogs defeated Southern, 64-58, in the round of 64, using a Kevin Pangos three-pointer in the final two minutes to hold off the 16th-seeded Jaguars in Salt Lake City. No No. 1 seed team has ever been knocked off in the first round since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
There were no shortage of naysayers doubting Gonzaga’s resume as a top seed and Southern provided them with plenty of ammo for most of the contest. The Jaguars hit 10 of 23 shots from downtown and had cut the deficit to one with just under two minutes to play.
That’s when Pangos stepped up, draining a three-pointer from the corner with 1 minute 57 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 62-58 cushion. A few defensive stops kept the upstart Jaguars at bay before two Pangos free throws made for the final margin.
The Bulldogs, who shot 42 percent from the field, were led by Kelly Olynyk, who helped salvage brackets everywhere with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
NBA Hall of Famer and Gonzaga alum John Stockton was in the house to see his son, David, play for the Bulldogs. By the look on his face during the nail-biting finish, you would think he was having flashbacks of Michael Jordan sinking the Utah Jazz on that same floor in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.
Things won’t get any easier for Gonzaga in the next round Saturday. The Bulldogs advance to face No. 9 Wichita State, who dismantled Pittsburgh earlier in the day.