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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over BYU


NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Brigham Young Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Well...that was a fun game! Those are the games that remind you how fun college basketball can be.

  1. Julian Strawther’s game winning three showed the ice he has in his veins along with the confidence and belief he has in himself. Strawther had a fairly quiet evening before that shot, but when the moment presented itself he showed no hesitation. The mark of a true hooper.
  2. Gonzaga had a really nice first half on the offensive end. Despite the crowd’s raucous energy in the opening minutes, the ball movement was crisp and the Zags were patient in working the ball inside to manufacture quality opportunities at the rim. That’s always the formula for halfcourt offensive success for the Zags. Give BYU’s defense credit, they adjusted how they were pressuring the ball to make entry passes more difficult and were also pushing Timme and Watson’s catch points further away from the blocks towards the corners.
  3. On the other hand, Gonzaga’s defense left a lot to be desired in the first half. Ball screen defense wasn’t connected, which gave BYU a lot of easy reads and open layups or spot up jump shots. Communication and attention to detail need to be better. BYU shot 13-25 from the three-point line, and a lot of those attempts were clean looks. In addition, there were a couple of silly and useless reaching fouls by the Zags to give BYU three-point opportunities on layups after a turnover or getting beat. Those are the types of losing plays that kill teams because mistakes are just being compounded.
  4. Rasir Bolton had a difficult night shooting the ball, going 0-7 from the field. But he found a way to contribute with quality ball distribution and helped to facilitate the offense despite a cold shooting night. That’s the maturity of a veteran player to not get down on yourself and still find a way to make a positive difference in some way.
  5. It’s always remarkable how different teams can play in different halves of the same basketball game. Gonzaga’s offense was clicking in the first half and they were getting lots of easy looks. In the second half, nothing came easy for them.
  6. Anton Watson: STUD. Not only did Watson make his first six shot attempts, which even included a 3, to contribute 14 points in the first half, he made the biggest stop of the night on the game’s final possession to secure the win.
  7. Ben Gregg played so well and with such great composure to be a catalyst off the bench, and despite a very difficult road environment. He has taken such big leaps in the last two months.
  8. Turnovers reared their head again for Gonzaga in this one. A healthy number of them were caused by careless ballhandling, which are truly the ones that have to be avoided. No freebies, folks.
  9. The cardiac Zags have made a habit of finding ways to win these difficult games on the road. When you look back over the last month and see these last three road wins in the WCC, plus the quality battle against Alabama in Birmingham, this Gonzaga team has been pushed more than any in the last few years. Perhaps the best part? It has been a different guy to step up and answer the call for the Zags at the end of each of those road wins? That’s tough to scout for if you’re an opposing team.
  10. Beating BYU one more time in the Marriott Center as a WCC rival in front of several NBA players and Zag alums? That’s the good stuff.