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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

“Great Timme awareness”: Baylor’s team defense limits Gonzaga star to nine points

Dec. 2, 2022 Updated Fri., Dec. 2, 2022 at 9:52 p.m.

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota – If he wasn’t already, Baylor coach Scott Drew might be fielding some phone calls from coaching colleagues asking about his defensive strategy on Gonzaga scoring machine Drew Timme.

The Bears held the Zags’ All-American to just nine points and six field-goal attempts in Friday’s 64-63 win at the Sanford Pentagon. It was reminiscent of Baylor’s 86-70 victory over Gonzaga in the 2021 national championship game. In that one, Timme scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Baylor tried to limit Timme’s touches and often he was 15-20 feet from the hoop when he did receive a pass. When Timme, who averages a team-best 18.6 ppg, made a catch, inside or outside, he wasn’t left alone for long as one or two defenders rotated over on the 6-foot-10 forward.

Timme stayed patient, didn’t force shot attempts and fed open teammates on the perimeter.

Drew has known about Timme’s offensive ability for a long time. He recruited Timme during his standout prep career at J.J. Pearce High in Richardson, Texas.

“He’s one of the best to ever play college basketball,” Drew said. “It’s not an individual to stop him. I thought Flo (Thamba) and Josh (Ojianwuna) did a great job, but really you focus your team defense. Drew did a great job involving his other teammates so his numbers might not have been there, but he did a good job involving them.

“I thought the rest of (Baylor’s) guys on the court really had great Timme awareness and tried to make things tough for him.”

Timme’s first points came on two free throws with five minutes, seven seconds left in the first half. His first field goal came with 6:04 remaining and put Gonzaga on top 53-51.

Timme added two more baskets down the stretch. He finished 3 of 6 from the field and made 3 of 4 free throws. He had five rebounds, two blocks and one assist before fouling out with 16.2 seconds left.

On one play early in the second half, Timme was swarmed by three defenders. He passed it out, the Zags swung the ball around the perimeter but couldn’t get an open look as the Bears recovered quickly. The possession ended with a turnover.

“They’ve always done that,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Baylor’s tactics on Timme. “They just double him constantly, they front him, they don’t want him to have catches. I thought he did a great job of spraying it and finding our guys and putting us in position, and he obviously opened things for Anton (Watson).

“He got our guards 3s. He did a good job facilitating.”

Watson finished with 13 points, but GU made just 6 of 22 3-pointers.

It was Timme’s lowest scoring game since he had six points vs. Saint Mary’s in last year’s regular-season finale.

Flagler’s late 3s spark rally

Baylor senior guard Adam Flagler didn’t have a great shooting night, but he was clutch in the closing minutes. Drew disclosed in postgame interviews that Flagler was battling an illness.

GU appeared comfortably in front at 63-56, but Flagler hit consecutive 3-pointers, the second with 1:06 left, to cut the Zags’ lead to one point.

Flagler had missed his first four 3-point attempts. He entered the game at 54.2% behind the arc.

“Great leader, great winner, but nobody knew he wasn’t feeling well today,” Drew said. “To be honest, some players wouldn’t have played. He played for his team and left it all on the court. I know as a coach I appreciate that.”

The Zags held Baylor to 6-of-24 shooting on 3s. Flagler finished with 11 points but connected on just 4 of 14 shots.

“We did a great job all day on Flagler,” Few said. “One (of the late 3s) was really a tough shot, and the other we didn’t quite hit our screening coverage and he got a good look.”

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