No. 2 Gonzaga puts on clinic offensively, crushes BYU 110-84

<p><!–[photoset id=11690]–></p><p><p>BYU gives up 61.9 points per game. Gonzaga reached 61 points by late in the first half.</p></p><p><p>Gonzaga has been a decent 3-point shooting team, but typically operates inside out. The Zags buried 10 3s, the 10th rewarding fans with free tacos, by late in the opening half.</p></p><p><p>Second-ranked Gonzaga was in a 40-minute groove Thursday, from Andrew Nembhard’s step-back jumpers to Drew Timme’s silky post moves, and the Cougars had zero answers at the defensive end.</p></p><p><p>The Zags had too much firepower for the Cougars, who showed plenty of their own in the first half but they couldn’t keep up as Gonzaga rolled to a 110-84 victory in front of packed house of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.</p></p><p><p>“We were awesome on offense, we really, really were,” coach Mark Few said following the Zags’ 61st consecutive home win and 23rd in a row in conference play. “Some of the lines are just incredible. To shoot 69% for the game is incredible, obviously 52% from 3 was huge.</p></p><p><p>“Nineteen assists and no turnovers with Andrew and Rasir (Bolton) is amazing. Literally everybody that got in the game did what we asked them to do and wanted them to do.”</p></p><p><p>Gonzaga (13-2, 2-0 West Coast Conference) hit the 100-point mark with nearly 7 minutes left and cruised past its previous high against BYU of 102 points set in 2019. </p></p><p><p>The final numbers were mind-boggling: a season-high 28 assists, 43 field goals, 11 3s, 54 paint points and a shooting percentage of 69.4, the highest in a Division I game this season. The Zags flirted with the school record – 71.8% vs. Saint Mary’s in 1996. Gonzaga was at 73.2% with less than 5 minutes remaining.</p></p><p><p>“Our pace after makes and misses was good, ball movement, understanding where the mismatches were,” Nembhard said. “Everybody was just clicking together. One of those nights.”</p></p><p><p>Timme worked over BYU’s post defenders with 30 points on 13-of-14 shooting. Julian Strawther matched his career high with 20 points and Nembhard had a double-double – both with 12 minutes remaining.</p></p><p><p>“I take pride in being efficient,” Timme said. “It’s something I try to do every time, not force shots. I always like to let shots come to me. I was on tonight.”</p></p><p><p>He wasn’t alone. Nembhard finished with four 3s, 22 points and 12 assists, the most he’s had in a Gonzaga uniform. He had 13 assists vs. Long Beach State when he was at Florida.</p></p><p><p>The pace was swift and the points came quickly in the opening half.</p></p><p><p>BYU scored on its first three possessions and led 7-0. Then it was Gonzaga’s turn with 10 consecutive points – seven by Strawther – in less than 90 seconds.</p></p><p><p>It went back and forth until BYU took a 22-20 edge on Te’Jon Lucas’ basket with 12:23 left. At that point, the Cougars’ offense dried up and Gonzaga kept on lighting up the scoreboard.</p></p><p><p>The Zags scored 27 of the next 32 points to build a 46-27 lead inside the 5-minute mark. Nembhard and Strawther started the burst with 3-pointers and Chet Holmgren’s 3 and Timme’s easy basket over a shorter defender gave GU a 19-point edge.</p></p><p><p>BYU standout guard Alex Barcello picked up his second foul during Gonzaga’s run – the Zags promptly scored back-to-back baskets to go up by 12 – before Barcello returned.</p></p><p><p>BYU, which matched Gonzaga with 10 first-half 3s, buried five in the final 4:33 to close within 61-49 at the half. Four Zags reached double figures by intermission, led by Strawther’s 16 points and Nembhard’s 13.</p></p><p><p>The Cougars (14-4, 2-1) scored the first five points of the second half, cutting Gonzaga’s lead to seven. The Zags took off again with Holmgren’s reverse dunk starting a 23-6 burst that put the Cougars in a 24-point hole.</p></p><p><p>Gonzaga limited the Cougars to 35 second-half points on 36.1% shooting.</p></p><p><p>“Just an awesome performance on offense and I really thought one of the big key was our defense settled in in the second half and was much better because they torched us pretty good in the first half,” Few said.</p></p><p><p>Barcello finished 4 of 6 on 3s and scored a team-high 19 points, but his scoring pace slowed considerably in the final 15 minutes. Few said the Zags did a much better job of making the senior guard work for his points in the closing half.</p></p><p><p><em>Jim Meehan can be reached at (509) 459-5500 or at jimm@spokesman.com.</em></p></p>