The son of Lithuanian NBA legend Aryvdas Sabonis, gave an outstanding performance, scoring 21 points including 12 in a first half where the Bulldogs built a double digit lead over their NCAA rival seeded five places above them, to lead 35:25 at half-time.
“I like this kind of matchup. Their bigs were physical with me, and I tried to use it to my advantage,” said Sabonis
The US press gave his performance rave reviews – USA Today said: “Sabonis was dominant Thursday against the Pirates, displaying fancy footwork and a range of post moves as he scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.”
Gonzaga coach Mark Few told Yahoo News that Sabonis was the best rebounding big man he has ever coached while rival Seton Hall coach Kevin WIllard said with Sabonis being surrounded by capable shooters, it makes double-teaming him difficult.
“I thought he was really impressive. [I can’t decide whether] I was more impressed with his scoring [or] I was more impressed with his rebounding. I thought he battled. He was much more physical than he looked on film,” Willard said.
Sports Illustrated headlined their report: “Sabonis’s double double leads No. 11 Gonzaga over No. 6 Seton Hall” and said: “A second round matchup against No. 3 seed Utah awaits Gonzaga on Saturday, which will be a battle between strong West Coast teams with prolific big men. Sabonis will match up against fellow sophomore Jakob Poeltl, who is averaging 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.”
Sabonis said he has faced Poeltl before in international competition and is expecting a tough game Saturday, but US media are building up the match up of the big men as a must-see.