Oh, so that’s why Gonzaga is ranked No. 2. The Bulldogs handled Kentucky in Sunday’s matchup, beating the Wildcats by double digits and never relinquishing their early lead.
Coming off Wednesday’s loss to Texas, head coach Mark Few and Gonzaga entered tonight’s matchup hungry — and it showed. The Bulldogs consistently played with pace and fed off of the energy of the crowd in hopes of avoiding a second straight loss.
Though the game was not played at McCarthey Center, it acted as a home game for the Bulldogs as the venue was less than 10 minutes from Gonzaga’s campus. And in front of a record breaking crowd of 12,333 at Spokane Arena, the Bulldogs put on a show. Rasir Bolton scored a game-high 24 points, Drew Timme added 22 points and seven rebounds while Julian Strawther recorded a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. The team had four players in double figures as Anton Watson charted 10 points as well.
Kentucky cut the lead down to five in the middle of the second half, but Gonzaga kept them at arm’s length, maintaining control of the game. The squad continued to dominate the boards after the half, finishing the game +10 in rebounds (39-29). Kentucky simply had no solutions to stopping Gonzaga’s ability to drive to the basket as the lead ballooned back to double digits down the stretch.
Oscar Tshiebwe was forced to sit midway through the second half due to foul trouble, but finished the game with an efficient 20 points and 15 rebounds on 7-for-12 shooting. Two more members of Kentucky’s starting five finished in double figures, as Jacob Toppin had 16 points and Cason Wallace had 14 points; Antonio Reeves added 10 points off the bench.
Neither team shot the three particularly well. Kentucky went 6 for 25 from deep, while Gonzaga went 7 for 19. Both Tshiebwe and Timme made legitimate contributions to their player of the year campaigns, but with a win in tonight’s outing, Timme may currently have the upper hand.
The Zags move to 4-1 on the season, while Kentucky moves to just above .500 at 3-2. Both teams’ next games are against unranked opponents as they take on Portland State and North Florida, respectively.