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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over LMU


NCAA Basketball: Loyola Marymount at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

What a night of madness around college basketball, capped off by a delicious loss from Saint Mary’s at USF’s War Memorial Gymnasium. With that loss, Gonzaga now has sole possession of first place in the conference and is in control of its destiny for the WCC tournament. A solid night all around. Here’s what else I took away:

  1. The Zags played with a level of aggression and swagger in the first half that was reminiscent of its style of play during the first month of the season. The confidence is peaking at the right time, and will make for a fun month of March.
  2. LMU was missing top scorers in Steven Haney and James Batemon who account for nearly 30ppg, but even so, I’m not sure how much they would have helped considering the level of Gonzaga’s defensive play. The Zags played with great intensity and were communicating well which was evident in how crisp the rotations were throughout much of the evening.
  3. On the flip side, LMU fell asleep on several defensive possessions that gave the Zags a number of easy buckets early in the game and allowed them to get in a nice rhythm. One possession featured one of the easiest low-low passes from Tillie who fed Williams for an easy layup after Mattias Markusson got caught ball watching in no-man’s land.
  4. The Zags were extremely active and quick to the ball on long offensive rebounds. A good sign of a team that’s engaged and locked in.
  5. Corey Kispert had a couple of misfires on his entry passes. Don’t know what that’s about since he’s so fundamentally sound, but I don’t anticipate it to be a lingering issue.
  6. Not to nitpick in a 30-point win, but the assist to turnover ratio (13:14) was awful in this game. That’s not a number you can win with against a good team.
  7. There is really not a matchup in the WCC that Rui Hachimura won’t be able to win straight up, which made it perplexing when he opted to overplay an entry pass while defending Eli Scott on the low block. It allowed Scott to easily roll off an out-of-position Hachimura for an uncontested layup, when Rui could have just stonewalled him if he played it straight up.
  8. While the above defensive sequence was annoying, Rui’s quick baseline jumper stepping off the block has become much more consistent since the start of the season and is now a nearly indefensible weapon in his arsenal. We keep pointing this out, but his post game has improved exponentially in a very short period of time.
  9. For the second game in a row, Gonzaga got off to a very hot start from the three-point line and was then mostly ineffective from distance for the remainder of the night. The Zags have only shot 40% or better from the arc twice since the calendar flipped to 2018, and need to figure it out at the three-point line before postseason play.
  10. Three teams in the Top-10 all lost on Thursday night (Purdue, Ohio State, and Cincinnati). Gonzaga just needs to keep taking care of business so it can keep rising up the polls to a Top-5 spot.