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Gonzaga Advances to 12th Straight Round of 32

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5 wins to go

ZagMBB | Twitter

As soon as the ball was tipped, Seth Davis tweeted this:

Famously, he did the same thing at the tip-off of the Virginia-UMBC game in 2018, and the top-seeded Cavaliers became the first one seed to fall to a 16 seed. Today, Gonzaga went down 9-6 and Jalen Suggs picked up his second foul by the first media timeout. Maybe there was a small thought in the back of your head.

It went away pretty quick. Gonzaga got on track behind Anton Watson’s energy, pulled away in the first half, and finished off Norfolk State, 98-55, to reach the Round of 32 for the 12th straight season. Only Kansas has a longer streak.

Watson came in after the first media timeout and changed the complexion of the game. His first possession, he tapped out an offensive rebound for an extra possession that he finished with a layup. The next time down the court, he ducked into the paint and paved the way for a Joel Ayayi layup. He finished the first half going 4-for-4 from floor with five rebounds, two assists, and a steal.

Corey Kispert also brought his shooting stroke to Indianapolis. He hit five three-pointers in the opening half, leading Gonzaga to a 43-23 lead, where they assisted on 14 of their 16 baskets.

Joel Ayayi, who got poked in the stomach on a questionable-at-best play after making a three in the first half, took some of the scoring load with Suggs on the bench with two fouls. Aaron Cook had three assists off the bench in the first 20 minutes as well. It was a well-rounded team effort after they shook off a little rust.

The second half was complete domination. After being frustrated by foul trouble, Suggs finally got out on the break and got some easy buckets. And then Gonzaga decided to become the Globetrotters again:

Kispert finished with 23 points and five rebounds. Watson finished with 15 points (7-7 FG) and seven rebounds off the bench. Ayayi was a rebound shy of a double-double to go with his 15 points. Julian Strawther hit three straight triples in the final minutes. Martynas Arlauskas scored. They hit 14 threes as a team and on the other end, they held Norfolk State to 30 percent shooting. It was an all-out bludgeoning.

Gonzaga will face 8-seed Oklahoma on Monday at 11:40 am pacific at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Sooners held off Missouri earlier on Saturday, despite missing their second leading scorer De’vion Harmon, who will be out against the Bulldogs in the second round.