The Zags absolutely boat raced the Cougars for the second time this season, this time in enemy territory. What a solid, satisfying, and fun win for Mark Few’s bunch, who are rolling right now.
1. Chet Holmgren is progressing and improving right before our eyes. We already knew he was a special player, but his performances over the last few games have been otherworldly. 20, 17, 6, and 5 on the road vs. a Top-40 team suggests he may be figuring out this whole college basketball thing.
2. Probably the most overlooked aspect of Chet’s game is his passing; his six assists led all players last night. He is an adept scorer at all levels, but he’s shown the unselfishness and passing ability that the Zags’ offense has been known for. It just adds another layer to his already impressive skillset.
3. You have to feel for BYU a little bit (well actually, you don’t). Missing Harward and Baxter in the frontcourt was always going to be a problem, as we saw during the matchup in Spokane, but losing Te’Jon Lucas was killer. Not having your primary ball handler against this defense isn’t going to work most days.
4. Going into your rival’s jam-packed arena and silencing the crowd essentially from the jump has to be so satisfying. But that’s what happens when you outscore your opponent by 24 and hold them to *checks notes* 9-36 from the field in the first half.
5. I have a feeling Julian Strawther loves playing the Cougars. He had a somewhat quiet 19 points last night, a bit overshadowed by the Holmgren show. Those 19 were one shy of his season and career high, set a few weeks ago in Spokane against these same Cougars.
6. Holmgren and Strawther led another balanced attack from the Zags. As mentioned near the top of the ESPN broadcast, GU has six players averaging double figures. Five had at least 13 last night, three of which had at least 15. That kind of balance makes game planning slightly difficult for the opposition.
7. Andrew Nembhard gets a lot of deserved praise for running this dynamic offense, but he also deserves love for being the point guy on one of the best defensive teams in the country. He had six steals last night and helped hold Alex Barcello to just nine points on 4-14 shooting. Call him Canada Glove.
8. The dream of a four-bid WCC is still alive, but BYU’s recent performances may have the Selection Committee pushing them out. They are now 5-5 in the conference, and could stare down an NIT berth instead. That’s too bad.
9. After Auburn’s narrow escape of Georgia, the Zags may be poised to retake the top spot in the AP rankings tomorrow. Now this is an arbitrary ranking, but it’s certainly not outlandish to say Gonzaga is the best team in the country. They have consistently improved and continued to gel, and I do think it’s fair to say they’re better now than they were back in November.
10. I don’t know about you, but I want to try a cougar tail if I ever get the chance. Just for the experience.