Timme, Kispert lead No. 1 Gonzaga to 20th straight win
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs looked like mere mortals for the first eight minutes before they started showing their swagger.
Drew Timme wishes they’d start doing that from the opening tipoff.
Timme scored 21 points and Corey Kispert had 19 for No. 1 Gonzaga, which routed San Diego 90-62 Thursday night for its 20th straight victory dating to last season.
Jalen Suggs added 17 for Gonzaga (16-0, 7-0 West Coast), which beat San Diego for the 13th straight time.
“We’ve just got to do a better job internally. There’s nothing that any team does to us that we can’t handle,” Timme said. “Coming into the environment, especially like this, like every environment, there’s no energy, no fans, you’ve got to create it on your own. We’ve got to do a better job of coming out ready from the jump.
“They kind of got into us the first half and we looked like a regular team, I felt like. Missed our assignments and coverages. But the second half, coach lit into us like we needed to get lit into because we did not play good and we responded. We showed what we’re capable of but it’s a recurring thing and we need to get it in check.”
After a slow start, the 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 when Gonzaga expanded a 40-29 halftime lead to 58-38 just seven minutes into the second half. The senior forward made a layup and then hit a floater and then added a transition 3-pointer. Timme followed with a 3-point play for a 58-38 lead.
Gonzaga continued to pile on as Suggs hit a 3, was fouled and converted the 4-point play. Timme converted a 3-point play and Kispert hit another transition 3 to make it 72-46 with 7:34 to go.
Julian Strawther had 11 points and Anton Watson 10 for Gonzaga, which shot 57.6% from the field. Andrew Nembhard had 10 of Gonzaga’s 23 assists.
Coach Mark Few said it’s tough playing in empty gyms.
“Sorry, there’s just no juice in any of these places; our place, their place. We’re talking about it, the guys know it, they’re trying, but at the end of the day these are not festive environments of college basketball right now. We’re all just having to figure that thing out. I think by and large this group has done a good job of that, primarily because they like each other. But it is really hard.
“You’re at the end of January, doing it everywhere. At some point, even if you allow 300 people in here it makes a whale of a difference. Not sure why we can’t space them out and stay safe. Hopefully we can get to that point, especially at our place.”
Few was impressed with USD.
“They ran their stuff with some pace and they were crisp,” Few said. Finished shots around the rim. But most importantly when we had a breakdown they executed a play right and they made 3s.”
Finn Sullivan scored 16, Ben Pyle 12 and Vladimir Pinchuk 11 for USD (2-7, 1-4).
USD led for the first 12 minutes before Gonzaga went on a 15-0 run to take control.
With the Zags trailing 19-14, Timme converted a 3-point play to start the run and Suggs hit a 3-pointer. Suggs had a steal and fed Kispert for a slam dunk. Strawther hit a 3 and then had a steal and a layup to cap the run and give Gonzaga a 29-19 lead.
Timme had two buckets in the final 1:30 and Kispert hit a 3 in the closing seconds to give Gonzaga a 40-29 halftime lead.
“They are so explosive,” USD coach Sam Scholl said. “They’re such a well-oiled machine offensively. We talked a lot going into this game that we wanted to have our wall of resistance. We knew they were going to try to break us but we knew there were going to be some moments where we bent but we didn’t want to break. I thought that for the majority of the game that happened.”
Gonzaga: Gonzaga now leads the series 76-22. It has won 13 straight versus the Toreros, 24 of the last 25 and 46 of the last 49. The Zags are 47-4 against USD under coach Mark Few.
USD: The Toreros looked good in the opening 12 minutes before being 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 hosts Loyola Marymount on Saturday.