10 notes from Gonzaga’s win over UCLA

10 Notes From Gonzaga’s Victory Over UCLA – The Slipper Still Fits

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I’m still shaking my head in disbelief at how this game went down. The college kids in Vegas were making wild decisions on national television. Fortunately, for Gonzaga fans, they’ll have to do it again Saturday night against UConn after a game that epitomized the “survival and progression” mantra.

  1. Malachy Smith earned his compensation for the course. He turned to Gonzaga for the chance to have this moment, and he didn’t waste it when it arrived. His second-half performance is a big reason Gonzaga played Saturday night.
  2. Gonzaga went straight to work inside with Adem Bona out of the Bruins lineup as Drew Timme touched the ball early on almost every possession in the first half. Mick Cronin tried backups Kenneth Nopa and McEtienne on Timme first, but we quickly saw that these guys, and UCLA as a team, wouldn’t have answers for Timme on this night.
  3. It’s fun to watch Timme roll as he did in this game, but when it happened so early in the game there was little concern that the rest of his teammates would play too thoughtfully for the rest of the night and disrupt the offense. flow. To be perfectly clear, I’m not at all complaining about Timme going nuclear, especially when it seemed like no one was willing to step up to be a secondary scorer, but I felt like that’s what happened in this one.
  4. Gonzaga’s defense in the first half was terrible. It seems like every Zag hasn’t slept since arriving in Vegas and as a result they’ve been processing everything very slowly on Earth. The bouncers failed time and time again to keep Tyger Campbell in bottles and in front of them and the whole team was playing like they had never seen a ball screen before.
  5. You don’t see many matches with a rebounding disparity like the one between these teams (50-26) and that leads to such a tight matchup. This is due to UCLA’s efficiency and opportunism with Gonzaga’s turnover issues, but also a credit to how hard Gonzaga struggled to crawl back in this game. The Zags were committed to winning physical fights on the boards, and it paid off in the end.
  6. Gonzaga shot 54% in the first half and found himself trailing by 13 points because there were too many bad turnovers from Gonzaga. UCLA excels at forcing turnovers, but these were mostly unintentional errors. The Zags delivered it at least three times in the first half, only dribbled the ball too high (dumb overly inflated balls!!) and lost it despite minimal pressure from the Bruins. This cannot happen.
  7. It’s pretty much impossible to win this tournament when you have zero combined points from the starting point guard and shooting guard, and that’s exacerbated when they don’t bring much to the table on the defensive end. To his credit, few stubbornly did not stick with Hickman and Bolton in the second half. They even hit their first media timeout in the second half, but it was clear they just didn’t have it and they wouldn’t (Hickman’s body language, in particular, wasn’t any indication of which guy would get straightened up in the second half). Things turned for Gonzaga when Sallis and Smith made the arrival and it would have been a false exercise not to roll with them for the rest of the game despite last-minute situational substitutions.
  8. It would be easy to miss, but Hunter Sallis put together a very impressive game when Gonzaga really needed solutions in the backcourt off the bench. He scored 5 of 7 points in the backcourt in the first half, and his defense in the second half was vital in slowing down the UCLA offense.
  9. We’ve talked about Gonzaga needing to go on one or two defensive runs per game if they’re not one of the best defensive teams in the country (the first half vehemently emphasized that this isn’t possible), and they pulled the defensive run midway through the second half. Holding UCLA without a field goal for over 11 minutes is gutsy. This team is tough as nails.
  10. Drew Timm is the master player. He never gave up. His fighting spirit is unparalleled. What a zack.

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