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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Saint Mary’s

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NCAA Basketball-WCC Tournament-St. Mary’s vs Gonzaga Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One more game and we can kiss WCC play goodbye until next January and say hello to the NCAA Tournament. But before that happens, Gonzaga needs to take care of business against a BYU squad that will be desperate to avoid the same 3-0 sweep against a rival that befell Saint Mary’s on Monday night in Vegas.

  1. Saint Mary’s successfully controlled the tempo in the first game between these teams and frustrated Gonzaga into a slog of a game that the Zags don’t enjoy playing. If they wanted a shot at an upset, they needed to repeat that trick. Gonzaga didn’t let them. The top ranked team showed that their second game against SMC was much more reflective of the gap between these teams.
  2. There was a transition sequence midway through the first half that highlighted all of Drew Timme’s unique and versatile talents. It’s an absurd luxury to have your center comfortably running a 4-on-1 fast break before feeding Joel Ayayi on a clinical backdoor cut (of course) for an uncontested layup. He followed it up on the next possession with another backdoor feed from the top of the arc to a slashing Kispert. That ability to break down the defense with anyone and from any angle on the floor is what makes Gonzaga’s offense so difficult to stop.
  3. SMC really struggled on the defensive end to stop Gonzaga’s penetration. The result? The Zags shot 64.3% from the field in the first half. If you can’t stop the Zags from getting the ball into the paint, you’re not stopping that offense.
  4. If you’re looking for evidence that this was not a vintage Randy Bennett squad, look no further than the number of threes they turned down in the first half. The Gaels were not killers from the perimeter this year (30% from the 3-point line entering this game), but you can’t turn down decent looks from long distance against a team that was on pace to score over 80 points and beat you by 30. That’s not a winning formula, it’s managing the margin of defeat by holding the ball for 30 seconds.
  5. Drew Timme is the latest in a long line of Gonzaga big men that have completely tormented WCC opponents. They all did it in different ways, but the result was always the same. I love that Gonzaga is the preferred destination for highly skilled big men from all over the world.
  6. It was not a banner shooting night for Corey Kispert. For only the third time this season, Kispert didn’t make a single three. Get those clunkers out now CK!
  7. Jalen Suggs converted his first three pointer since February 13 against USF. I wouldn’t count on that aspect of his game, but if he gets going from the three-point line during the tournament just start printing the commemorative merch.
  8. The Zags had a few too many unforced errors over the last 10-15 minutes of the game. Yes, the game was way out of reach thanks to a 20-30 point lead and a handful of the turnovers were a byproduct of ambitious attempts made in the name of putting on a show, but it’s that time of year when things need to tighten up.
  9. From Game 1 through 25 this Gonzaga team has routinely made very difficult shots look simple and routine. Enjoy the talent of this group while you can.
  10. Gonzaga did the nation a favor by ending Saint Mary’s season. That offense was an assault on my senses.