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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Portland


NCAA Basketball: Portland at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga just needed some cooking and the comfort of sleeping in their own beds to get back to playing dominant basketball. Yes, winning three tight road games against quality opponents in conference play is a feather in the cap for this team, but it was nice to see a good old fashioned blowout where the Zags looked good in every aspect of the game.

  1. Gonzaga’s (big) athletic advantage was on full display in the first half. I’m not sure what happened to this Portland team since the PK85 tournament, but after a quality showing (despite going 1-2) during that tournament the Pilots currently look like a team that had no business being on the same court as the Zags.
  2. After playing in three straight nailbiters, Gonzaga needed a blistering start and a comfortable blowout win. The Pilots may be struggling, but the Zags opened the game with the necessary energy and aggressiveness to produce that type of performance.
  3. In the first 10 minutes of the game, Portland turned the ball over six times and missed their first 10 three-point attempts. I don’t know that you can start a game any worse. Somehow, Portland managed to finish the first half shooting 6-20 from the three-point trail by 33 points at the break. Yikes.
  4. Conversely, in the first half, 8 different Zags scored a basket and 6 different Zags had an assist. For the entirety of the game (save a possession here or there, I suppose), Gonzaga’s ball movement was crisp and dissected Portland’s defense with ease. That’s about as pretty as offensive basketball can look.
  5. Drew Timme is the Point God. He probably doesn’t get enough credit for how good of a passer he is, but he hasn’t allowed a dropoff in the frontcourt passing department and I’m sure is making his predecessors proud.
  6. Gonzaga’s defense was active and aggressive, but that should be the baseline expectation and I don’t think we should proclaim the defense fixed yet. Portland’s 28 first half points was more attributable to the Pilots’ putrid play than anything special that Gonzaga was doing from a defensive standpoint.
  7. Anton Watson casually walking right over a Portland player who had fallen on the ground was totally savage. I love everything about him.
  8. This was a great get-right game for Malachi Smith after a fairly quiet three game stretch. Smith erupted once again with a dynamic offensive performance. He’s been a steady player at both ends of the floor and has accepted his role off the bench, but these types of explosive performances are the ones that leave you wondering what the Zags could look like with more consistent outings from him (and the other guards, he’s not the only one).
  9. The 19-4 turnover disparity in this game was inspirational. I can’t remember the last time I saw a team play as utterly careless with the ball as Portland did in this game.
  10. It’s easy to take for granted that Gonzaga will win these games against lesser foes. But on a day when 9 teams ranked in the Top 25 lost to unranked opponents, the Zags (on this team and for the last few years) have to be commended for never having a slip up and beating the teams they’re supposed to beat 93 straight times. That’s a truly remarkable feat.