Another game against a ranked powerhouse, another convincing victory for the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs. Corey Kispert scored a career-high 32 points, hit a school record nine threes, and Gonzaga smacked 16th-ranked Virginia 98-75.
The storyline coming in was that Virginia rarely turns the ball over and their defense might be able to slow down Gonzaga. The first play of the game was a Virginia turnover. The second play of the game was a Gonzaga layup. It was off and running from there.
Gonzaga starts the game with one of their favorite specials: Iverson cut into a slip screen into the cleared area pic.twitter.com/QTaMcl7xsb— Steven Karr (@SKarrG0) December 26, 2020
Virginia’s top five defense had absolutely no answers for the Bulldogs’ high-powered attack in the first half. Jalen Suggs and Joel Ayayi went 0-for-6 from the field. The rest of the team went 16-for-24, led by Corey Kispert’s 18 points and Drew Timme’s 15. They only turned the ball over three times in the opening half and stretched their lead out to as much as 20. Virginia got some great play from Kihei Clark, whose mid-range jumpers helped cut the halftime deficit to 44-31.
If you thought maybe Virginia would come out strong in the second half, you would be incorrect. It started just like the first half: Virginia turnover followed by a Gonzaga layup and Kispert three. And that’s when Corey caught fire for the second time in this game.
FROM DEEP— SWXRightNow (@SWXRightNow) December 26, 2020
Corey Kispert is 8-12 from the three!
Kispert tied a school record with nine threes in the contest, joining Dan Dickau and Kevin Pangos as the other Zags to accomplish that feat. He finished 9-for-13 from deep as part of his career-best 32 points. Timme finished with 29 points and eight rebounds. Suggs stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals.
Gonzaga only turned the ball over seven times and had a points per possession over 1.50 when the starters came out of the game with five minutes to play. They jumped back to the top spot overall on KenPom and leaped over Iowa for the top offense once again. It was a complete clinic from the best team in America.
It was somewhat notable that Mark Few cut his rotation down to seven players in this game. Freshmen Oumar Ballo, Dominick Harris, and Julian Strawther didn’t play until the final minutes of the blowout (Ballo played a single 30-second stretch early in the second half prior to a timeout).
Gonzaga is now 7-0 for the fourth time in five years. The questions of an undefeated season will certainly begin. They own wins over Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa, and Virginia. The team will return back to Spokane to finish off their non-conference slate Monday against Northern Arizona and Tuesday against Dixie State. Their West Coast Conference slate begins a week from today, Saturday January 2, when they host the other team that beat Virginia, the San Francisco Dons.