Gonzaga Bulldogs no. 1 looked like only mortals for the first eight minutes before they started showing their swagger.
Drew Timme wishes they would start doing that from the beginning.
Timme scored 21 points and Corey Kispert had 19 for No. 1 Gonzaga, who led San Diego 90-62 Thursday night for his 20th straight victory from last season.
Jalen Suggs added 17 for Gonzaga (16-0, 7-0 West Coast), who beat San Diego for the 13th straight time.
“We just have to do a better job internally. There is nothing that any team does to us that we can not handle,” says Timme. “To get into the environment, especially like this, like all environments, there is no energy, no fans, you have to create it yourself. We have to do a better job of getting out ready from hope.
“They kind of came into our first half and we looked like a regular team, I felt like. Missed our assignments and coverage. But second half, coaches turned on us as we needed to be enlightened because we did not play well and we responded “We showed what we can do, but it’s a recurring theme and we need to get it under control.”
After a slow start, Zags used a 15-0 run in the first half to take control and then ran away in the second half.
Kispert keyed an impressive stretch as Gonzaga extended a 40-29 lead to 58-38 in just seven minutes into the second half. Senior forward made a layup and then hit a floater and then added a transition-3 pointer. Timme followed with a 3-point game for a lead of 58-38.
Gonzaga continued to pile on when the Suggs hit a 3, became a foul and converted 4-point play. Timme converted a 3-point game and Kispert hit another 3-pointer to make it 72-46 with 7:34 left.
Julian Strawther had 11 points and Anton Watson 10 for Gonzaga, who shot 57.6% from the field. Andrew Nembhard had 10 of Gonzaga’s 23 assists.
Coach Mark Few said it’s tough to play in an empty gym.
“Sorry, there’s just no juice in any of these places; our place, their place. We talk about it, the guys know it, they try, but at the end of the day, these are not festive environments in college basketball right now. We have to just find out that thing. I think this group has pretty much done a good job with it, mainly because they like each other. But it’s really hard.
“You are at the end of January and doing it everywhere. At some point, even if you allow 300 people here, it makes a choice of difference. Not sure why we can not accommodate them and be safe. Can get to that point , especially with us. “
Few were impressed by the USD.
“They ran their stuff at a certain pace and they were sharp,” few said. Finished shoots around the rim. But most importantly when we had a split they performed a piece correctly and they did 3s. “
Finn Sullivan scored 16, Ben Pyle 12 and Vladimir Pinchuk 11 for USD (2-7, 1-4).
USD led the first 12 minutes before Gonzaga went on a 15-0 run to take control.
With Zags after 19-14, Timme converted a 3-point game to start the run and Suggs hit a 3-pointer. Suggs had to steal and fed Kispert for a slam dunk. Strawther hit a 3 and then had to steal and put up to lose the gap and give Gonzaga a 29-19 lead.
Timme had two buckets in the final 1:30 and Kispert hit a 3 in the final seconds to give Gonzaga a 40-29 lead at halftime.
“They are so explosive,” said USD coach Sam Scholl. “They are such a well-oiled machine offensively. We talked a lot about this game that we wanted our wall of resistance. We knew they would try to break us but we knew there would be a few moments. Where we bent but we did not want to go I thought so for the majority of the game. “
THE WHOLE PICTURE
Gonzaga: Gonzaga now leads the series 76-22. It has won 13 straight against Toreros, 24 of the last 25 and 46 of the last 49. Zags are 47-4 against USD under coach Mark Few.
USD: Toreros looked good in the beginning 12 minutes before they were overwhelmed by the talented Zags. Pyle had two 3-pointers and Sullivan took it to the hole for a slam dunk and later added a 3.
Gonzaga is at Pepperdine on Saturday night.
USD worth Loyola Marymount on Saturday.
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