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Gonzaga Takes Care of Cal State Bakersfield, 81-65

It should have been a lot more of beatdown.

What’s so exciting about this Gonzaga offense is how dynamic it is. 6 different Zags scored in double figures against Cal State Bakersfield. Along with that, it’s nice knowing the fact that someone different can steal the show each night. Against the Roadrunners, it was Ryan Nembhard (22 points on 8-12 FG and 2-4 3PT, 5 assists, 2 steals). His confidence is growing as the season goes along and the coaching staff has full trust in his abilities. Anton Watson tagged along and grabbed/tied his career-high of 13 rebounds. An absolute machine on the glass, it’s very hard to match that strength/size/speed.

Even with all the eye-popping offensive numbers from the Zags, there were lackadaisical defensive spurts on Gonzaga’s side that allowed Kaleb Higgins (21 points on 8-19 FG and 3-5 3PT) and his Roadrunners to stay in the hunt. If Gonzaga wants to take come away with a major victory over Isaiah Collier and the Trojans on Saturday, the team as a whole needs to be more consistent on the defensive end for 40 minutes going forward.

Because of Cal State Bakersfield staying in this one, Gonzaga couldn’t pull away and get Luka Krajnovic in at all (although, I did hear a bug was going around after the Hawaii trip so that could partly be the reason why) and Jun Seok Yeo more run. Those would’ve been valuable reps for both since the backcourt depth/ballhandlers isn’t a strength of this year’s squad.

Enough of that, time to take about the narrative of Braden Huff being one of the best bench pieces in the country. Not many programs can say they have a type of impact player coming off the bench like Huff. He can pick up the slack when say Ike or Watson or Stromer have off-nights. Huff should be following in the footsteps of Malachi Smith (2022-2023) and Andrew Nembhard (2020-2021) as winners of the WCC Sixth Man of the Year award.

Another NCAA Tournament resume opportunity lies ahead in the Sin City (AKA the Kennel South). You can catch Gonzaga take on USC in the Legends of Basketball Las Vegas Invitational on ESPN at 7 PM PT.

Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho