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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Pepperdine

22-2

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

A 43 game winning streak over the course of 20 years against a single team is a truly unbelievable feat. The level of consistency that requires is hard to comprehend. Keep in mind that the last time Pepperdine beat Gonzaga which was on January 18, 2002, the iPod had just been invented and Nickelback had spent some time at the top of the Billboard 100. NICKELBACK!

  1. This was one of the uglier games that Gonzaga—if you can call winning by 20 and scoring 86 points ugly (we are spoiled)—has played since that early December swoon. There will be lots to clean up and an extra day for the coaching staff until the next game on Saturday against Santa Clara.
  2. Ignore the tough shooting percentage, Andrew Nembhard put on a master class in seeing the floor and orchestrating an offense in the first half when he picked up 9 of his 14 assists. He’s the true definition of a floor general.
  3. Hunter Sallis is truly perfect for that Joel Ayayi role off the ball. He has a great sense of timing and the basketball IQ to see where and when his cutting lanes will appear. And, of course, he knows how to finish at the rim.
  4. Jan Zidek thought he could back down Chet Holmgren all the way to the rim, but learned like many others this season that Chet is much stronger than he looks. You just can’t expect to bully Chet on the low block. He’ll make you look bad.
  5. I’m genuinely surprised that the Zags only had 14 turnovers in this game. It felt like they had 30.
  6. Pepperdine learned its lesson after they tried to run with Gonzaga in Spokane and promptly gave up 117 points. They did a much better job of keeping the pace under control and avoiding the temptation of getting into a track meet.
  7. His efficiency wasn’t great, but Houston Mallette demonstrated he’s a legitimate player in this game. Only a freshman, Mallette will continue to get better over the years and should quickly become one of the best non-Zags in the WCC as soon as next season. At 6’5”, he has good size for a guard and he doesn’t lack confidence.
  8. Finally, a great night at the free throw line (14-15)! We criticize the free throw shooting often, so we have to shout it out when a good night comes along.
  9. What is Pepperdine doing with Lorenzo Romar? Sure, he had a winning campaign last year with a 15-12 record, but the floor has bottomed out this season and it seems very obvious (at least to me) that his players don’t get better under his watch. The player development seems to be very lacking in that program, which they simply can’t afford at a time when the rest of their peers in the WCC get better. Pepperdine has a solid core of freshmen on this team in Mallette, Mike Mitchell Jr., and Max Lewis, but they need to get the most of that group in terms of player development over the next 12-18 months if they want to avoid being stuck in the bottom half of the WCC.
  10. The Zags return home for senior night against Santa Clara on Saturday. You all may want to tune in to see who shows up for that one.