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After backing down a defender in the lane for an easy first-half score, Gonzaga big man Drew Timme celebrated by putting his hand near the court as he ran down the floor in a gesture that in layman’s terms translates to calling the Texas defender guarding him too little. That turned out to be a theme of Saturday night’s tussle between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 5 Texas as the top-ranked Bulldogs brutalized and bullied their way to a dominant 86-74 win.
Timme, the CBS Sports Preseason National Player of the Year, paced Gonzaga (2-0) with a career-high 37 points in the effort. He finished his night shooting 15 of 19 from the floor and added seven rebounds — a game-high — to boot.
The Zags led by 20 at halftime on a shot from just inside halfcourt by Iowa State transfer Rasir Bolton and had its largest lead of 22 early in the second half.
Bolton scored 16 points and Anton Watson added 10 for the Zags.
Texas, led by a team comprised almost entirely of transfers, was, as expected, not quite as cohesive as its counterpart. The Longhorns (1-1) combined for 11 turnovers and gave up 44 points in the paint. Timmy Allen, Marcus Carr and Jase Febres all reached double figures in scoring and the bench was a bright spot, pouring in 28 points in the effort.
With the win Gonzaga should easily retain its spot as the No. 1 team in the sport when rankings update next week. It is coming off a 31-1 season in which it went wire to wire as the No. 1 team in the sport from the preseason to the end of the season.
Here are three takeaways from Gonzaga’s easy win in Spokane, Washington.
1. Gonzaga is as advertised
The expectation this season — even after losing Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert to the NBA as top-15 draft picks — was that Gonzaga would be the clear-cut top dog in the sport led by Timme, No. 1 recruit Chet Holmgren and an experienced supporting cast. Expectation, meet reality.
The Zags are as advertised. This was a rout early on, and a rout in which it got only two points from Holmgren and nine points from senior Andrew Nembhard. Production came from every direction. It’s going to be hard to beat a team this deep and talented. Just wait until the newbies come along.
2. Drew Timme is a star
Happy to break some news here in my game recap and be the first to report that Timme, the mustached man who mashed inside against Texas, is back, mustache and all, and he is even better than last year. Footwork pristine, scoring instincts impeccable. He knows how to produce and how to win. Scoring a career-high 37 points on 19 shots is stuff of legend against a top-five team. He was a star last season but he might be the star this season.
3. For Texas, time will heal wounds
New Texas coach Chris Beard won big at Texas Tech with transfer-heavy rosters and he will win big this season and beyond with rosters likely to be filled with transfers. But, as expected, it’s probably best to temper early-season expectations for this team. It’s practically a brand-new club with six transfers and one high school recruit.
It’s going to take time for Beard to learn which strings to pull and which rosters to deploy. And it’ll take time, too, for this team to feel itself out and start playing the way Beard will expect. That they kept it within a respectable number against a Zags team that looked near unbeatable is, I think, an encouraging sign. Better days for Texas this season are ahead — and there should indeed be some really good days ahead with as much talent as there is on this roster.