INDIANAPOLIS – Can anybody stop these guys?
For the 30th straight time this season, Gonzaga answered that question with a resounding “No.”
The Bulldogs got on a roll and put on a show, cruising into the Final Four with an 85-66 beatdown of a Southern California team that was nowhere near ready for what it ran into Tuesday night.
Drew Timme had 23 points and five rebounds and, after one dunk, pretended to slick down his handlebar mustache for the few thousand fans in the stands.
“This is a really, really big deal,” coach Mark Few said of the program's return to the Final Four after a four-year hiatus. “And Zags know how to celebrate, OK?”
The top-seeded and top-ranked Bulldogs (30-0) will be the third team to bring an undefeated record into the Final Four since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The last team to go undefeated was Indiana in 1976. On Saturday in the national semifinals, the Zags will face 11th-seeded UCLA, which beat Michigan 51-49 in a later Elite Eight game.
In the early contest, Timme did whatever he wanted against the nation’s fourth-ranked defense — a team that won its first three tournament games by an average of 21 points — as did pretty much everyone else in a white uniform.
Jalen Suggs finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. All-American Corey Kispert had 18 points and eight boards on an “off” night — only 6 for 19 from the floor. Gonzaga shot 44% in the second half and “only” 50% for the game. That was five under its nation-leading average, but it didn't matter much.