A graphic popped on the screen with 7 minutes, 12 seconds left Sunday in Gonzaga’s 83-65 Sweet 16 victory over Creighton at Butler’s historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.
CBS’ Ian Eagle summed up the graphic, and seemingly the Zags’ season, in six words.
“Game summary, it is all Gonzaga.”
Sure, the Bulldogs are undefeated. And they have won 33 consecutive games. But what’s most impressive is they have won their last 26 games by double digits, an NCAA Division I record.
And Creighton wasn’t about to stop that.
What they saw …
• Eagle, analyst Jim Spanarkel and sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl were there to witness another wipeout. But this one had a bit different feel to it.
The Zags started fast, jumping out to a 9-2 lead, but Creighton (22-9), who finished second in the Big East, hung around behind the 19 points of Marcus Zegarowski, who hit his first three 3-pointers. But he joined his teammates struggling from that range and Gonzaga (29-0) steadily pulled away behind Drew Timme and his 22 points, part of all five starters scoring nine or more.
“So well-balanced,” Spanarkel said of the Bulldogs as the clock ran out. “It’s just an amazing cast of characters they have out there.”
• Occasionally the sideline reporter ends up bringing viewers the most important analysis of the game. It happened Sunday, right after halftime.
Erdahl reported what many viewers had already probably voiced, the first few minutes would tell the tail. But her source was someone with a much more important view of the game: Creighton coach Greg McDermott. He told Erdahl the first 4 minutes, the time until the first media timeout of the second half, would be crucial for his team.
He was right. In a sense.
After leading by 10 at halftime, Gonzaga outscored the Bluejays 8-2 to build the lead up to 16.
As Spanarkel said, “This timeout couldn’t come at a better time for Greg McDermott and Creighton.”
Except it didn’t help all that much. Add in the next four-minute segment, which finished with another GU burst, and the Zags blew the game open, building a 27-point lead at one point.
What we saw …
• It seemed like a good day to listen to the CBS pregame crew and keep track of what they felt needed to happen for Creighton to upset the top-ranked Zags. Just in case it actually happened.
Seth Davis: Creighton has to make 17 3-pointers, matching their season-high total. At halftime, the Bluejays were 3 of 13 from beyond the arc. And they trailed by 10. At that point, Davis seemed to be on the right trajectory. Funny thing, it got worse for Creighton. The Bluejays finished 5 of 23 from long range.
Wally Szczerbiak: Have to hope Gonzaga forgets how to play defense. As mentioned, Creighton missed 10 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. The Bulldogs were taking away that part of the Bluejay offense, though, because they were stretching beyond the arc, Creighton was able to grab six offensive rebounds, leading to nine second-chance points. That didn’t continue.
When it was finished, the Bluejays had shot 40.6% from the floor. And they turned it over 11 times.
“Gosh, I thought we did a great job defensively,” Mark Few told Erdahl in the postgame interview. “They are a scary team to prepare for. … I just thought we did a wonderful job limiting them from the 3-point line.”
Clark Kellogg: The Bluejays have to play fast. And they have to be 1985 Villanova-like perfect. He didn’t think it was possible. “That’s too much to ask. I think the Zags move on comfortably.” He was right.
• Hungry? Thirsty? The NCAA has you covered. The timeouts during tournament play seem to go on and on. They are 3 minutes long, more than enough time to get to the fridge for a beverage. Or an apple. Thanks CBS for the extra minute – and the extra AT&T commercial, in which Lily explains what you should do with the time.
But, wait. There is more.
Halftime is 20 minutes long during NCAA tourney games. That dates back to early in the century when there was a war going on. But it has stuck around, much to everyone’s – except the CBS accountants – chagrin.
Then again, if you need to get a workout in, halftime is there for you.
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