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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win at USF

24-2

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at San Francisco D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga went into a tough road environment against a team ranked inside KenPom’s Top 25 and comfortably covered the 10.5 point spread while the two starting bigs dominated. Drew Timme missed a triple double by just one rebound and two assists without turning the ball over (!), while Chet Holmgren produced another unicorn performance. Just too many weapons on this team for USF to contend with.

  1. The pace and level of play in the first half was a great advertisement for the WCC. Making your first six shots is always welcome, if you’re a Zag fan, but the Dons were playing some pretty offensive basketball of their own during that stretch and should get recognition for how well they play. The WCC needs to be more than just Gonzaga, and frankly, it’s always good to see teams other than SMC and BYU playing high quality basketball.
  2. Julian Strawther had a pair of quiet performances last week, so it was great to see that it didn’t affect his confidence. He showed no hesitation or lack of aggressiveness at the start of the game, and was a big factor in Gonzaga’s hot start.
  3. It’s not too often that we see Gonzaga shoot 70% from the field and find themselves in a tie game, but that’s exactly what we saw midway through the first half. There was a four minute stretch during that period where the Zags turned the ball over five times. Most of those turnovers were very sloppy too. Gonzaga hasn’t been prone to awful turnovers this season but those are the types of stretches that are fatal in the Tournament. That can’t happen again.
  4. We don’t have to see Gonzaga play without Andrew Nembhard too often since he’s rarely in foul trouble and has been fortunate to stay healthy. So when he picked up his second foul with eight minutes to go in the first half and went to the bench for the remainder of the half, I was really curious to see how the Zags were going to close out the half. Even with Nolan Hickman experiencing an off night, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Zags didn’t miss a beat and still built a double digit lead despite not having Nembhard at the controls. What a team.
  5. Kudos to the Dons for keeping Gonzaga out of transition. While the Zags weren’t having trouble scoring in the halfcourt, it’s not too often that you see them limited to only four fastbreak points in a game.
  6. Watching Hunter Sallis defend Bouyea was such a treat. Sallis showcased that he is already elite at that end by placing the shackles on a red hot Bouyea who had been killing the Zags before having to deal with Sallis. That Sallis added 7 points without missing in the first half was the cherry on top of a fantastic performance.
  7. The coaching staff needs to find a way to get Anton Watson back on track. That was a tough outing for him amidst a tough stretch overall (other than his performance at Pepperdine). Hopefully he comes out of it soon.
  8. We are 26 games into the season and Chet Holmgren has 91 blocks compared to just 85 missed shots despite taking 20.5% of Gonzaga’s shots while he’s on the floor. If we’re being conservative, he’s probably also altered 59,000 shots this season. Simply incredible stuff.
  9. The Zags are so good at snuffing out hope. They are relentless at both ends of the floor. The Dons played an excellent game of basketball and trailed by 20 points with 15 minutes left in the game. To their credit, they kept pushing but that is psychologically damaging.
  10. USF deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament. Full stop.