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Gonzaga Basketball

Chet Holmgren caps spectacular week with 20-point, 17-rebound double-double in Gonzaga’s thumping of BYU

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren (34) dunks the ball against Brigham Young on Saturday in Provo, Utah.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PROVO, Utah – College basketball’s most respected statistician didn’t need adjusted metrics or advanced analytics to convey the thought running through the minds of nearly 19,000 fans at the Marriott Center Saturday night.

“Chet is good,” tweeted Ken Pomeroy, founder and manager of respected analytics website, and a Utah resident who was one of the media members credentialed for Gonzaga’s game against BYU.

Pomeroy and 18,986 others experienced the full scope of Holmgren’s talents in Provo – not too different from what a smaller West Coast Conference crowd got 48 hours earlier at the University of San Diego when Gonzaga’s freshman individually outscored the Toreros 11-1 over a stretch of just 1:41 to finish with a 23-point, 12-rebound double-double.

Holmgren didn’t have a burst quite like that Saturday, but he left his imprint on almost every aspect of the Bulldogs’ 90-57 blowout at BYU, recording his seventh double-double this season, scoring 20 points to go with a season-high 17 rebounds in just 28 minutes.

The freshman matched a season-high with six assists – five of which came in a four-minute stretch in the second half – and blocked five shots.

It was another dazzling effort that left visiting fans, and even a few of Holmgren’s teammates, awe-stricken by the 7-footer’s efficient shot-making, elite shot-blocking and constant presence on the defensive and offensive glass.

“Chet’s one of one, there’s literally zero players in the country that can do what he does,” Bulldogs sophomore wing Julian Strawther said. “He amazes me every time. I’m watching oohing and aahing with you all. I’m a fan, I just love watching him play and he does so much for us.”

Holmgren’s faring especially well when it comes to Pomeroy’s metrics, as the No. 2 candidate for Player of the Year, logging kPOY rating of 1.577, behind only Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe.

After going through a brief ESPN interview Thursday in San Diego, Holmgren obtained a stat sheet from a sports information official. The freshman said his eyes were first drawn to his personal rebounding total – something Gonzaga coaches have been urging him to improve on.

“Coach is on me about rebounding, and I don’t count stats in the game,” Holmgren said, “so I just was kind of checking them.”

The rebounding numbers looked good Thursday and improved again two days later. The 29 rebounds Holmgren secured against San Diego and BYU were his most over a two-game span this season. His previous season -high of 15 came in a December game against Merrimack.

“That’s Chet, that’s vintage Chet,” GU coach Mark Few said. “He does a little bit of everything and even tonight his 3 wasn’t going early, but the rim protection he gave us, I thought he rebounded really, really well tonight against some big-time physical rebounders. We were worried about that going in, then we were able to also play off some of their switches and find him down low.”

Holmgren finished 9 of 14 from the field and 2 of 5 from 3-point range. He finished with a plus/minus of +43, barely lower than teammate Andrew Nembhard, who was +44.

A more assertive Holmgren attempted a season-high 14 shots at the Marriott Center. He’s scored more than 20 points in four of GU’s past five games, averaging 19.6 per game and making 14 3-pointers during that stretch.

“He has hunted his shot a little more, and it’s done amazing things for us. It’s just opened up the floor even more,” Strawther said. “You look at our starting five and there’s five dudes who can get 20 on any given night. Then you have Ton (Anton Watson), Nolan (Hickman) and Hunter (Sallis) coming off the bench, there’s so much packing punch going on.”