Dominance. Art. Swag. The swaggiest dude ever? A Few scoring in an official game. That’s what was on the menu at The Kennel on Thursday night as the Gonzaga Bulldogs dismantled the BYU Cougars 110-84. To be honest, the game wasn’t even that close.
Nine different Zags scored at least a point, led by another one of “those” performances from Drew Timme that make you wonder how it is that he’s fallen out of the Wooden Award conversation over the last few weeks. Timme scored 30 points with his only missed field goal of his 14 attempts coming from an attempt beyond the arc. He was a game wrecker.
Andrew Nembhard produced another maestro performance with 22 points and 12 assists, the majority of which demonstrated his elite playmaking ability. And don’t forget Julian Strawther, who scored 16 of his 20 points in a dominant first half that underlined his star ability. And “quietly,” Chet Holmgren was the defensive anchor with 5 blocks to go with his 12 points and 7 rebounds. Hunter Sallis (8 points) and Anton Watson (9) continued their fantastic run supporting from the bench.
The Zags are usually the team that jumps out to a quick start before the first media timeout, but BYU flipped the script on them and raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first 66 seconds. Gonzaga stopped the bleeding though, putting together a 10-0 run of their own over the next two minutes powered by 7 points from Strawther who rose to the occasion on this night.
Strawther and BYU’s Alex Barcello put together an entertaining duel over the course of the opening half with both of them red hot from everywhere on the floor. Their good vibes soon spread to their teammates as the two teams continued to exchange blows during the opening 10 minutes of the game. Tejon Lucas hit a couple of jumpers, followed up with consecutive threes from Nembhard to give the lead back to Gonzaga, and then a drawn charge by Anton Watson on a Caleb Lohner drive.
For as well as the Cougars played in the first half, and they did play well considering they scored 49 points (!!) in the first half, they simply couldn’t play to the elite level required at both ends of the floor to keep Gonzaga within reach. The Zags reeled off another monster run to the tune of 26-5, replete with highlights to make your heart sing, to push the lead to as large as 19 points and seize firm control of the game.
It was an extremely fun first half of basketball and a great demonstration of high level basketball in the WCC set in the best possible venue in front of a raucous Kennel crowd. Games like this are what make college basketball great.
The second half did not provide a let down after such a high-octane opening stanza. The Cougars opened with their expected push, cutting the deficit down to 7 points before Gonzaga’s transition game went into full-clinic mode. If you looked closely enough, you could see the fight leave BYU with each pass slung by Nembhard. Over a four minute stretch, Timme scored 13 points while converting every shot he attempted whether in transition or leading the break.
Seven minutes after getting the deficit down to a manageable seven points, BYU found themselves staring at a 22-point chasm. More disconcerting for the Cougars is that the Zags looked like they had barely broken a sweat during that run.
The rest of the game was a formality. Gonzaga stretched the lead to as high as 34 points at 106-72 punctuated by an explosive dunk from Hunter Sallis. The remaining minutes of the game were simply about damage control for BYU. They had mounted a fervent challenge, but had once again been beaten back. Lucky for them, they won’t find Gonzaga in the Big XII.