It’s perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the season to this point. That’s saying something since Gonzaga’s Drew Timme has already gone up against Iowa’s Luka Garza, the probable national player of the year.
Timme’s next challenge is USC center Evan Mobley, a 7-foot freshman projected as one of the top picks in the NBA draft. Mobley has swatted 95 shots, second nationally. He’s one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy defensive player of the year.
Mobley anchors USC’s man-to-man and zone defenses. He hasn’t fouled out of a game this season. He hasn’t committed more than two fouls in each of the last nine games.
Timme was been at his best in the last two games with 52 points on 19-of-26 shooting. He averages 18.9 points and makes nearly 68% of his 2-point attempts.
“This isn’t the first time he’s played against size,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “People forget we played BYU three times and they have 7-3 Matt Haarms. We played West Virginia back when they had (Oscar) Tshiebwe and (Derek) Culver and a couple other bigs. Heck, Loyola Marymount is one of the biggest teams in the country. Drew has faced size before, probably not size with as much talent as the Mobley (brothers), but I’m sure Drew is looking forward to it.”
It’s fair to point out that it might not necessarily be a head-to-head matchup. Both teams have some flexibility, and USC has played quite a bit of zone defense in three tournament wins. The Trojans could assign Mobley’s brother, 6-10 Isaiah, on Timme. Gonzaga has the option of putting Anton Watson on Evan Mobley.
Evan Mobley entered Sunday’s win over Oregon as the only player in the nation averaging at least 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 assists. He’s averaging 12.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in the tournament.
USC coach Andy Enfield had answered the final question in Sunday’s postgame press conference, but he wanted to add one more thought.
“Evan was our fourth-leading scorer (against) Oregon, but he had six assists,” Enfield said. “Against Kansas, he was our fifth-leading scorer, and he had five assists. That just goes to show you how unselfish Evan is and what a great player he is.”
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