INDIANAPOLIS – Media members covering Tuesday’s Elite Eight at Lucas Oil Stadium didn’t have to put much thought into their votes when casting ballots for the most valuable player of the NCAA Tournament’s West Region.
Gonzaga’s Drew Timme was the overwhelming choice for MVP after scoring 20-plus points for the third consecutive game, posting 23 points with five rebounds, four assists and three steals in an 85-66 win for the top-seeded Bulldogs over fifth-seeded USC.
Two GU teammates, Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert, joined Timme on the all-region team. USC’s Mobley brothers – Evan and Isaiah – rounded out the five-man group.
Timme, who had a career-high 30 points in Gonzaga’s round-of-32 win over Oklahoma, followed with 22 points against Creighton in the Sweet 16 and had the 15th 20-point game of the season against USC. Timme is up to 85 points in four NCAA Tournament games (21.3 per game) and has done it in an efficient manner, shooting 32 of 52 (61%) from the field and 21 of 25 (84%) from the free-throw line.
The sophomore from Texas set the tone for Gonzaga with more than his scoring. Timme stripped USC guard Tahj Eaddy on the first play of the game, dribbled coast to coast and watched his initial layup rim out before cleaning up the miss and drawing a foul on Evan Mobley.
“I think that’s a great call. He does that a lot, quite frankly,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the early play. “He really kind of enjoys those moments when we go to our switching defense like that, and he moves his feet very well for a bigger kid. … It set the tone that, hey, we’re going to be aggressive. This thing’s going to start with defense, and he was aggressive all night.”
Suggs wasn’t far from recording his first college triple-double and scored 18 points to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists. The freshman phenom has been a force for the Zags in his first NCAA Tournament, averaging 13 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.
Kispert, the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, contributed 18 points in Tuesday’s Elite Eight win and is averaging 17.2 in the tournament after scoring 12, 16 and 23 in GU’s past three games. The senior wing went only 3 of 10 from the 3-point line against the Trojans but is 50% for the tournament, connecting on 15 of 30 attempts. Kispert also had eight rebounds in the Elite Eight.
The Mobleys combined for 36 points against top-seeded Gonzaga. Isaiah had 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Evan, a projected lottery pick in the 2021 NBA draft, had 17 points, went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line and had five rebounds with three assists.