TV Take: BYU makes sure Gonzaga isn’t immune to shocking Saturday full of college basketball upsets
Feb. 22, 2020 Updated Sat., Feb. 22, 2020 at 11:52 p.m.
The upsets kept coming Saturday.
Just before Gonzaga took the Marriott Center court to face BYU, previously undefeated San Diego State had fallen to UNLV by three points.
Earlier in the day, Baylor, ranked No. 1, lost at home to Kansas, also by three points, though when the nation’s third-ranked team wins, it’s not that much of an upset.
Would the Zags be the last to fall?
Yes, they would. BYU made 11 3-point shots, dominated the middle part of the game and went on to hand Gonzaga a 91-78 defeat. Watching the end of GU’s 19-game winning streak were Dave Flemming and Sean Farnham for ESPN2.
“College basketball is spectacular,” Franham said. “Today proves it.”
What they saw …
• “If they win this game here tonight,” Farnham said of the Bulldogs in the pregame, “they deserve to be No. 1.”
Mainly because the deck was stacked against the Zags.
The Cougars, ranked 23rd, their first ranking in nine years, needed the win to stay ahead of Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference standings – and to clinch an at-large NCAA bid.
It was their Senior Night, with TJ Haws and Yoeli Childs among those honored. And there were 19,000 BYU fans in the Marriott Center who wanted the Bulldogs leashed. They were.
The Zags dug a hole early, falling behind by eight at intermission. Less than 4 minutes later, the Cougars were up 14 after Kolby Lee hit a 3-pointer – only his seventh of the season.
“It might be BYU’s night,” Flemming said.
Though the Bulldogs pulled within two at one point, it turned out to be.
“A signature win in Year One for the head coach (Mark Pope),” Farnham said as the clock wound down.
• It was loud. Really loud. You could hear it. So could the broadcast team.
“You can’t hear the whistle in here,” Flemming said early on. Later, he and Farnham debated if this was the loudest environment in the nation this season.
That came just before a foul was called on Killian Tillie that occurred before a Childs shot, though no one could hear the whistle.
As the game wound down, the noise was deafening. As it ended, the court was covered with many of the more than 5,000 students at the game.
BYU guard Jake Toolson (5) celebrates with fans following the team’s 91-78 victory over Gonzaga following an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Provo, Utah. (Rick Bowmer / AP)
What we saw …
• The home versus road difference in college hoops is pronounced, maybe as much as any sport. We present Haws’ first half as evidence.
The senior guard did what he does, scoring 11 points on nine shots in the opening 20 minutes. But if the game had been played in Spokane, he may not have played more than the first 4 minutes or so.
Less than 3 minutes in, Haws picked up an offensive foul on Filip Petrusev, a call by Larry Spaulding that could have gone either way. A minute later, he enticed David Hall into calling an offensive foul on Joel Ayayi, even though his legs were crossed as contact was made.
He also raked Ryan Woolridge across the arms on a layup attempt, then cross-body-blocked Tillie to stop a fast break. Both were just whistled as out-of-bound plays off Haws.
In Spokane, all probably would have been called fouls. As would have been the biggest noncall of the game. With 4:36 left before intermission, Petrusev rolled to the basket. Haws came off the corner and hit him in the back with a forearm, causing Petrusev to fall to the floor.
There was no call.
“This is just coming up and taking a shot,” Farnham said, watching the replay of the play he considered at least a Flagrant One and possibly a Flagrant Two – an ejectable foul. “That is unsportsmanlike, unnecessary and not a college basketball play.”
The play was reviewed. The officials told Farnham, yes, they missed the common foul, but they couldn’t call that. And they didn’t feel it rose to a flagrant.
The key matchup …
• Yoeli Childs returned to BYU this season for games like Saturday night’s. He dealt with a nine-game suspension to start the year and missed some games with injuries. In this one, though, he was too much for Petrusev, Tillie and Drew Timme.
The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 28 points, grabbed 10 rebounds (four of them on the offensive glass) and, along with Haws (16 points and eight assists), was the difference for the Cougars.
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