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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

‘They’re going to be extra fired up’: Gonzaga’s Drew Timme expecting defensive variety from Texas

Nov. 14, 2022 Updated Mon., Nov. 14, 2022 at 9:49 p.m.

Texas has been good to Drew Timme.

Gonzaga’s senior forward enjoyed road trips to his home state in easy wins over Texas A&M in his freshman season and Virginia in Fort Worth as a sophomore. The diehard Dallas Cowboys fan scored 11 points in 18 minutes off the bench against the Aggies and poured in 29 points versus the Cavaliers.

Timme’s best statistical effort in a career packed with big numbers came last November with a career-high 37 points in an 86-74 home win over then No. 5 Texas. As clutch as Timme was in the second half guiding Gonzaga past Michigan State on Friday, he was nearly unstoppable against the Longhorns in the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The rematch is Wednesday in Austin between the second-ranked Zags and 11th-ranked Longhorns, who no doubt are plotting defensively to prevent a repeat performance by Timme.

“I would say I definitely left a bad taste in the mouth last year,” Timme said. “They’re going to be extra fired up for that one.

“There’s no place I like playing better than at home. So it’s going to be a rowdy environment and that’s what college basketball is about, man, that rivalry, that intensity, that passion, all the tempers and everything. It’s going to be a heck of a game. We expect to see nothing but their best and we hope to give them nothing but our best.”

The Dallas native delivered a virtuoso performance a year ago. He missed one shot – a 3-pointer that rimmed out – in the first half. He finished 15 of 19 from the field, 7 of 9 on free throws and added seven rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes. He drew nine fouls on defenders.

To put Timme’s effort into perspective, his 37 points and 15 made field goals were season highs by a Texas opponent in 34 games. The next highest point total in nonconference play was 18 points by Seton Hall’s Jared Rhoden. Texas held Arkansas-Pine Bluff to 31 points and Incarnate Word to 33.

The highest point total yielded by the Longhorns in Big 12 regular-season and tournament games was 27 points by West Virginia’s Malik Curry, who made just 7 of 15 shots, but was 11 of 13 at the foul line.

Texas forwards Christian Bishop, Timmy Allen and Brock Cunningham –and even guard Courtney Ramey – tried to slow down Timme, but nothing worked.

“The adjustment they made (was) they were feeding the post from the middle of the floor a lot,” Texas coach Chris Beard said after the game. “We had some game-plan stuff from the side, but we just couldn’t hold him off from the middle.

“You can talk all you want about (former Boston Celtics great) Kevin McHale and pivots and pump fakes and all this, but until you see the skill he has, it’s hard.”

Beard understands that better than most. The second-year Texas coach recruited Timme, who was a standout at J.J. Pearce High in Richardson, when he was leading Texas Tech’s program.

Beard’s teams are known for being hard-nosed and defensive-minded, which was evident when his Red Raiders upset Gonzaga in the 2019 Elite Eight. Texas Tech eventually lost to Virginia in overtime in the championship game.

“They’re a heck of a team and he’s a heck of a coach,” said Timme, who did come out on the losing end to Tennessee last month in Frisco, but the exhibition game didn’t count on GU’s record. “You know he has a bunch of tricks up his sleeve so we’re really going to have to get after it.”

The Longhorns return the 6-foot-7 Bishop, 6-6 Allen and 6-6 Cunningham and added five-star recruit Dillon Mitchell, an athletic 6-8, 205-pound forward. But another returner, Dylan Disu, who was recovering from a knee injury and didn’t play against Gonzaga last season, figures to be the first option on Timme.

The 6-9, 225-pound Disu is the tallest and heaviest player on the roster. He started the first two games and he’s averaging 9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

“Just being tough, being physical, having technique, knowing our defense,” said Mitchell, when asked about defending Timme. “As far as practices, just play hard, know what we have to do, study his game and study their whole team. It’s not just him. We have to study the whole team if we want to win that game.”

Timme taking over games is nothing new to his teammates. He scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half as Gonzaga rallied past Memphis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last March. “The Drew Timme effect came into play,” Tigers coach Penny Hardaway said.

Timme had 14 points, nine boards and three assists in the second half as the Zags overcame a double-digit deficit to knock off Michigan State in the Armed Forces Classic. Timme had a few choice words at halftime that he noted “was a little similar” to his fiery halftime speech against Memphis.

“I was waiting for it,” Gonzaga senior forward Anton Watson said. “He kind of started to turn up in the second half and that’s what we needed because we were down a little bit. It got the whole team going. Drew is capable of that.”

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