Drew Timme won the opening tip, scored on Gonzaga’s first possession, second possession and a couple of minutes later with a nifty left-handed layup.
Then he really heated up.
Timme was a one-man wrecking crew from close range, long range, on the boards and at the defensive end. The sophomore forward had 21 points by halftime and finished with 28 to lead the top-ranked Zags to a 100-61 road victory over San Francisco on Saturday.
The 6-foot-10 Timme’s deft footwork, multitude of post moves, ball-handling ability and shooting range to 23 feet was on full display. He also drew a charging foul on Dons wing Julian Rishwain.
San Francisco forward Taavi Jurkatamm couldn’t slow Timme. Samba Kane, a 7-foot junior, came off the bench, but Timme raced around him for a layup while being fouled. He had 15 points as Gonzaga bolted in front 17-2.
“We just took what they gave us,” Timme said. “That just happened to be me early.”
Timme was 8 of 8 from the field until a banker from 5 feet was a tad too hard with 1:53 left in the first half. The only other time he missed was when he wasn’t guarded – he was 4 of 7 at the free-throw line.
The Timme show resumed after intermission. He had two more field goals and a free throw as Gonzaga’s 48-26 halftime lead grew to 58-28 with 16 minutes remaining.
That’s when San Francisco’s Twitter account showed its sense of humor, tweeting, “Looks at box score … Well, I for one, accept Drew Timme as our new overlord.”
“I don’t even know what to say,” Timme said. “That’s pretty funny, though.”
Timme’s offense shared top billing with his defense, which has improved noticeably as the season progresses.
“He’s always been able to score the ball,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Timme. “The thing I’m proud of is he’s really defending much better. I could feel his presence out there. He was talking and communicating. We were switching him onto some really talented guards in (Khalil) Shabazz and (Jamaree) Bouyea and he was fine. That’s a great sign for us moving forward.”
Timme made 11 of 12 shots. The only reason he didn’t eclipse his career high of 29 points, set against Virginia in December, was because he played just 22 minutes in the blowout.
Timme, who had only attempted 12 3-pointers in the first 19 games, buried a pair from behind the arc.
“I’ve been on him to keep practicing and shooting the 3 because he’s been making a lot of them,” Few said. “When he works out after practice, they look good. I was happy he’s taking the right ones for most part and they were going in tonight.”
Gonzaga (20-0, 11-0 West Coast Conference) made 21 of 28 second-half shots (75%) and reached the 100-point mark for the fourth time this season. Corey Kispert, Aaron Cook and Joel Ayayi each had 12 points and Jalen Suggs added 11.
The Zags collected their 17 consecutive double-digit victory, the longest streak by an AP No. 1 team since UNLV won 19 straight during the 1990-91 season.
In any other game, Gonzaga’s defense probably would have hogged the headlines. It took 8-plus minutes for USF to register its first field goal and the Zags collared the Dons’ 3-point attack.
The Dons, fourth nationally at 10.8 made 3-pointers per game, misfired on their first 12 from distance before Shabazz connected with 3:03 remaining in the first half. Bouyea’s feed to Shabazz on the play also marked San Francisco’s first assist.
Bouyea, slowed by an ankle injury suffered in Wednesday’s loss to Pepperdine, had 14 points but committed five turnovers. Shabazz scored 14 points, but hit just 3 of 16 shots and had three turnovers.
“It might have been one of our better, if not our best game of taking the scouting report and having great alertness and executing the plan,” Few said of the defense.
San Francisco (10-10, 4-6), which looked rusty vs. Pepperdine after a 17-day COVID-19 pause, kept it close in the first half against GU last month in Spokane, but this one got out of hand quickly.
The Dons made just 7 of 33 shots from deep and finished with five assists and 15 turnovers.
Gonzaga’s bench saw extended minutes in the second half. Backup center Oumar Ballo (illness, not COVID-19 related) didn’t play.
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