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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Texas Tech

9-2

2021 Jerry Colangelo Classic Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

That was better from the Gonzaga Bulldogs. With former Zags who played on the 2018-19 team watching with greater interest than usual against the program who knocked them out in the 2019 Elite 8, they were provided a small bit of recompense. Of course, an Elite 8 loss and a regular season win three seasons later are not equivalent, but I’m sure there was a small bit of satisfaction there.

  1. How is it that broadcasters (in this case Jim Spanarkel) still mispronounce Gonzaga in 2021? The Zogs Zags have been one of the best teams in college basketball for years now. It’s completely inexplicable to me that this is still a thing.
  2. Chet Holmgren hasn’t showed away from taking three-pointers this season when they’re there for him, but he looked more comfortable and confident shooting them in this game than he is in any other game to date. He may deny that, but to my eye he looked far more fluid shooting them and I suspect that will continue moving forward considering he had that feel against a quality defense in Texas Tech. He also produced a fantastic rebounding performance despite being limited to 24 minutes due to foul trouble. He’s still figuring out what he can and can’t get away with in terms of fouls (while also being a victim of freshman foul calls...), but he maintains a massive impact on the game when he’s on the floor.
  3. Gonzaga’s opponents have been more inclined to send triple teams at Drew Timme as of late. That’s due in part to Timme clearly being Gonzaga’s best offensive option, that’s no secret, but the willingness to throw that type of coverage is also a byproduct of Gonzaga’s struggles to punish teams from the perimeter with regularity. The Zags are an elite team when it comes to 2-point field goal percentage, but things could be much easier for Timme and company inside the arc if the Zags could be more consistent from long range. The Zags converted the most threes from beyond the arc this season, with a flurry of them coming in the second half during an 18-4 run after the Red Raiders cut the deficit to two points. If Gonzaga can approximate that type of performance on a more consistent basis, the offense will be much more balanced and difficult to defend.
  4. Related to No. 3, thank goodness for Rasir Bolton. Things could be real grisly this season if the Zags didn’t have him. Everyone has to keep finding him.
  5. This was a low scoring game for Gonzaga (relatively speaking), but that was always going to be the case in light of Texas Tech’s pace and defensive acumen which simply limits the number of possessions for both teams. However, there are still wrinkles to work out for GU and progress on that end is very much ongoing.
  6. Anton Watson’s near posterization and stare down of Texas Tech’s Bryson Williams after getting fouled was a low key delightful moment in the game. Watson put together another quietly strong performance and is such a luxury to bring off the bench behind Timme and Holmgren.
  7. Hunter Sallis and Nolan Hickman’s growth week-to-week has been really fun to watch. They’re being rewarded for that development with increased minutes. They have been consistently strong on the defensive end. It’s exciting to think about where their respective games will be when we get to March.
  8. Texas Tech was definitely hurting without Terrence Shannon, Jr., but this was a much better defensive effort from GU than we’ve seen over the last few games. It’s not unusual for shooting to ebb and flow, but the Zags should be able to produce this type of defensive performance night in and night out. That’s the key to their success this season.
  9. It was a fairly ugly final 8 minutes to the game, but credit to the Zags for regaining full control midway through the second half to comfortably close out Texas Tech without drama. Andrew Nembhard deserves credit for managing the game to avoid any late drama, though I still question the need to play him for 40 minutes. He was 2-11 from the field before going 4-5 to close out the game. Hopefully, this is a sign that he’s broken out of his slump but I think it would be beneficial to at least rest him for 5-7 minutes per game which could be absorbed by Sallis and Hickman.
  10. Surprisingly, the Zags didn’t have a single dunk in this game. Of course, it doesn’t matter if you get the win, but it was a weird little nugget that stood out to me. It was also the third time in the last four games that the Zags have held an opponent to 55 points.