WICHITA, Kan. – Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few gave Kevin Pangos a hug as the junior guard was leaving Intrust Bank Arena to catch a flight home, weather permitting, for the holidays.
“We gotta get you healthy,” Few said as the two embraced.
A few seconds later, freshman Ryan Edwards exited the locker room. Few stopped the 7-foot-1 center and told him he might get an opportunity for more minutes, in reference to Sam Dower Jr.’s scary fall on his back that kept him out for the final 24 minutes Saturday.
The 21st-ranked Zags were beaten on the court by Kansas State 72-62 in front of 13,224 mostly purple-clad fans, and they are beat up in general heading into a much-needed holiday break.
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A big question is the health of Dower, Gonzaga’s second-leading scorer at 14.6 points per game. He tried to dunk but was jostled off balance when D.J. Johnson contested the shot. Dower didn’t have time to brace himself and his lower back took the brunt of the fall. He hobbled to the bench; school officials said X-rays were negative.
“There was some tenderness in some areas that they felt they needed to X-ray, which is pretty scary,” Few said. “He was in a lot of pain at half.”
Gonzaga (10-2) trailed from the outset, caught up with key contributions from reserves Drew Barham and Kyle Dranginis, but was outplayed by the Wildcats (8-3) in the closing 90 seconds of the first half.
That scenario played out again in the second half as Gonzaga poked its head in front before Kansas State took over, this time starting with nine minutes remaining. The Wildcats’ 15-2 run – Gonzaga made one field goal in an eight-minute span — gave them a 66-54 lead with less than a minute left.
“I liked how we fought through adversity when we lost a very important guy to us,” said Few, referring to Dower. “We took the lead there for a little bit in the second half but we just couldn’t get enough stops.”
Pangos led the Zags with 14 points and Barham scored 13.