For the first eight minutes of the game, that wasn’t too fun. Then, it the game turned into a blast.
1) Keli Leaupepe was an absolute monster in this game, both in hair style and his energy on the floor. He borderline kept LMU rolling through the first 10 minutes of the game by relentlessly attacking the glass and using his size to bully around for those offensive rebounds. He is by no means pretty to watch, but he makes it work. He’ll be a great piece for LMU next season.
2) LMU gave a valiant effort for the first eight minutes or so of the game, but it was only a matter of time until Gonzaga busted the game wide open. The Zags did it exactly in the way that showcases why they are so dangerous. LMU went absolutely silent for six minutes and in the meantime, the Zags rattled off a 15-0 run to take a big lead. The Lions ultimately missed their final 13 of their 14 field goals in the first half.
3) On nights like this, it is easy to see why Nolan Hickman generates some draft chatter. Hickman is incredibly smooth on offense. He rarely seems to play like a freshman, is never flustered, and boy that jumper looks oh so pretty. Hickman finished with 11 points in the game, seven in the first half.
4) It seems like at least once a game we are forced to remind ourselves that Rasir Bolton is one of the quickest Gonzaga players in history. In the second half, after hounding Joe Quintana on a tough shot at the rim (that he made), the ball was inbounded to Bolton who created his own fastbreak and scored on the coast-to-coast in maybe four or five seconds.
5) What can you honestly do against Chet Holmgren? He had yet another perfect example of how he uniquely changes the game in the second half, hitting his third three of the game, trotting down the court to block a shot, and kickstarting a fastbreak to Anton Watson (ultimately finished by Hunter Sallis).
It took a few games, but we are seeing Holmgren much more comfortable on the offensive end. If he continues to shoot this hot from long range, game over everyone. Since conference play started, Holmgren is 9-of-14 from long range.
6) Sallis is slowly carving himself out some glue guy-lite minutes and the coaching staff should continue to reward him. He is an absolutely tenacious defender and is constantly chasing after every single rebound and every single loose ball. At the start of the season, it seemed that although the talent was there, it would be some time before it all came together. That much is still true, but Sallis’ has figured out how to get minutes with just all-around hustle. Exactly what you want to see out of a freshman on a talented team.
7) After taking a slight dip against San Francisco, the Zags’ three-point onslaught was back on track and then some. The Zags shot 52 percent from long range, and even though it is LMU, it is pretty clear at this point in the season that if Gonzaga is going to hit threes, they might not be able to be beat.
8) Watching LMU, it is pretty easy to see why this team has taken a nose-dive on expectations this season. The offense is just not good. The Lions shot just 33 percent from the floor, part of that Gonzaga’s defense, but the other part of that is they don’t seem to have any coherent offensive strategy. Often times, LMU wouldn’t even set up their half court sets until there was 15 or less seconds left on the shot clock, and at that point, it is just someone trying to play hero ball. They finished with just six assists on 22 field goals. Ewwww.
9) The front court accounted for all of the turnovers in last night’s game, and even though you don’t want to see seven combined turnovers from Timme and Holmgren, I’ll take zero from the backcourt any day of the week. Although Nembhard only played 25 minutes, he finished with four assists and zero turnovers. Since the loss to Alabama, his assist to turnover ratio stands at roughly 3.75:1.
10) The four-bid WCC might’ve taken a slight hit tonight after San Francisco coughed up a 23-point lead to Saint Mary’s at home and BYU lost at the buzzer to Santa Clara. The Dons have now lost to both BYU and the Gaels at home. Barring the big upset against the Zags, San Francisco has an uphill climb and will probably need to pick up a win (or two) on the road if they want to feel comfortable come Selection Sunday. BYU is still totally fine, but the four-bid WCC only works when all teams win the games they are supposed to.