Gonzaga steamrolled USC to remain undefeated and advance to the Final Four for the first time in four years.
The NCAA Tournament hasn’t been much of a challenge for Gonzaga, which has absolutely crushed its opposition on their way to the Final Four.
The latest victim was USC, which saw its stalwart defense get crushed by the Bulldogs in an 85-66 rout that was pretty much over by halftime. Gonzaga advances to the Final Four for the second time in program history as they improve to 30-0 on the year with the last 27 coming by double-digits. The Zags are the first team to have five straight 30-win seasons.
The biggest story to come out of this game was a scary moment in the first half when referee Bert Smith collapsed on the floor. Smith was down for a couple of minutes before regaining consciousness and did not need to go to the hospital, a very positive development after a frightening situation.
Highlights from Gonzaga’s win over USC
Drew Timme picked up right where he left off against Creighton, scoring nine of the Bulldogs’ first 17 points. This sequence saw Timme throw down a dunk off a nice assist and take a steal all the way for a layup as the Trojans had no answer for him early.
Jalen Suggs hasn’t had the strongest NCAA Tournament in terms of scoring but he is still making an impact with his precision passing. Check out this tremendous bounce pass that Suggs threaded through two USC defenders to set up Andrew Nembhard for an easy layup.
Timme drew the attention for his scoring, leading Gonzaga with 23 points, but he also dropped some dimes as well, racking up 4 assists, including this pretty feed to Corey Kispert early in the second half.
3 key takeaways from Gonzaga-USC
3. USC’s defense couldn’t keep up with the Bulldogs’ offensive onslaught
One of the key aspects of USC’s run through March Madness has been its stout defense. The Trojans limited their first three opponents to 29.4 percent, 29 percent and 37.7 percent shooting, making it easy for their offensive talent to take over.
Gonzaga is at another level offensively and USC found out the hard way as the Bulldogs shot 50 percent for the game, including a 55 percent figure in the first half. The Trojans hadn’t given up more than 36 in the first half of a game all year before the Bulldogs hung 49 on them tonight, putting this game out of reach early.
2. Gonzaga’s passing is extremely underrated
Looking at the raw numbers of Gonzaga’s production only offers a taste of why the Bulldogs are so dangerous. All of the talent that Mark Few has assembled helps, but this team plays excellent team basketball thanks to a collection of extremely talented passers, in particular, Suggs, who had eight assists and was two shy of the first triple-double in an Elite Eight game since Dwayne Wade in 2003.
The ball movement that Gonzaga has designed is fitting of a modern-day NBA outfit, which makes the way the Bulldogs pass the ball a thing of beauty. It’s hard for any team to defend an opponent that passes as efficiently as Gonzaga does, making lockdown defense a requirement for anyone hoping to knock off the Bulldogs.
1. The hard work is still to come for Gonzaga
Anyone who looked at the West Region entering the NCAA Tournament could have easily predicted that Gonzaga would make the Final Four. The road there was even easier than the Bulldogs could have hoped for as they didn’t have to face Iowa, Kansas or Virginia, each of whom was upset early in the tournament.
The Final Four should offer a significant step up in weight class, especially if Michigan wins later tonight to earn a showdown with the Bulldogs. A long-awaited matchup with Baylor, which was scheduled for the regular season before COVID issues within Gonzaga’s program scuttled the game, in the finals on Monday night could be the true litmus test of whether this team belongs in the pantheon of the greatest college basketball teams of all time.
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