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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Pepperdine

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NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Pepperdine Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga put together a clinical performance to notch its 41st straight win over the Pepperdine Waves and keep pace with the Baylor Bears, who held off Auburn in a hard fought game earlier in the day. Thanks to the cancellation of the Kentucky-Texas game, Gonzaga had the chance to switch over to ESPN and showcase its beautiful brand of basketball on a bigger stage.

  1. Pepperdine’s fast start was powered by a combination of Colbey Ross doing Colbey Ross things along with ball security and off ball movement creating high percentage scoring opportunities to get out to a 16-7 lead by the first media timeout. The Waves couldn’t maintain that discipline, however, and soon started to force passes that resulted in turnovers which turned into a 24-3 run by Gonzaga. Game over.
  2. You have to love Drew Timme making a concerted effort to bring some extra energy and juice on the floor throughout the game. It’s easy to start going through the motions on the floor when there’s no crowd to energize you. Shoutout to Timme for being the driving force in energizing his team.
  3. Aaron Cook was incredible in the first half with 12 points and lockdown defense on Ross. That was as aggressive as we’ve seen him play from an offensive standpoint, and he was rewarded for it with a fiery little stretch that was really fun to watch. He deserved a big game.
  4. Corey Kispert missed a open three-point attempt from the left wing in transition. There must have been some type of glitch in the matrix because that’s been an automatic three points all season. Guess he’s actually human?
  5. Andrew Nembhard has full control of the offense now and looks extremely comfortable pulling the strings in a halfcourt setting. It’s fun to watch someone facilitating at such a high level. Cook and Nembhard combined for 32 points, 10 assists, and 4 steals off the bench. What a luxury to be able to bring players of that caliber off the bench.
  6. It was a night to forget for Jalen Suggs from a defensive standpoint. Similar to his first matchup against Ross, he found himself in foul trouble for much of the night despite enjoying a stark athletic advantage over his counterpart. Ross was able to get Suggs out of the game by taking advantage of his exuberance and penchant for defending with his hands. That’s the benefit of experience. While Suggs’ foul situation kept him out of the game far longer than he would have hoped, you have to appreciate that he didn’t let that sour his attitude as he watched from the sidelines. Instead, he stayed fully engaged in the game and was the loudest cheerleader on the bench. That type of attitude—particularly from the marquee lottery pick player—goes a long with teammates.
  7. Anton Watson’s confidence and trust in his body looks to be on the rise. ESPN GameDay might need to do a re-do of its feature on Gonzaga from the weekend and toss Watson an invitation to join the other starters.
  8. As discussed on the broadcast, Pepperdine could be a recruiting force if the university committed to investing in the program and upgrading the facilities. Unfortunately, the plans for a new arena unveiled a decade ago is dead in the water. Even without the arena, there’s very little indication that the university is committed to pushing the basketball program back to its former heights. The campus and location are great selling points (and I guess the rocks as well, according to Sean Farnham), but recruits know if there is a commitment to the basketball program or not. Right now, it’s obvious there is not.
  9. Congratulations to Pepperdine’s Ross for reaching the 2,000 point/700 assist/400 rebound threshold in his career during this game. Ross hit the 2000 mark with a sweet stepback jumper against Suggs in the first half, which is a pretty great way to hit a milestone. Those are truly remarkable numbers, particularly for someone who doesn’t overpower opponents from a physical standpoint. It has been a treat to watch him play in the WCC over the last four years.
  10. It warms my heart whenever Suggs, Dominick Harris, and Julian Strawther get on the floor together. Harris and Strawther are patiently waiting their turn, and will be the stars of this team soon enough, but their opportunities to play with their buddy in college games are fleeting.