Gonzaga Demolishes USC, Worse Than We Thought

USC’s NCAA Tournament implodes at hands of undefeated Gonzaga

The undefeated, top-seeded Bulldogs prove easily too much for the sixth-seeded Trojans in an 85-66 Elite Eight game

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  INDIANAPOLIS — The cracks showed early, followed by a trickle, then a gush, then the whole dam breaking.

By the time sixth-seeded USC recovered enough to plug some of the holes, there was no catching Gonzaga. And the Trojans’ magical March run came to an end in the Elite Eight with an 85-66 loss to the top-seeded Zags.

The Trojans simply found themselves in front of the unstoppable machine that is the 2020-21 Gonzaga Bulldogs.

USC was the 30th victim of a team that has not lost and has won by single just digits once, and not since December. The Trojans were just the latest to find themselves trailing desperately in a foot race it thought was a basketball game.

The Trojans were playing as good of defense as they had all season entering this game, limiting their first two tournament opponents to 29% shooting before shutting down Oregon in the Sweet 16. But Gonzaga has the best offense in the country, and shot accordingly with a 50% mark.

USC’s defense couldn’t even get into the position with the speed the Zags played the first half, scoring 15 of their 21 fastbreak points before halftime.

The most paint points USC had allowed this season was 36. Gonzaga matched that with 17:41 remaining on a soaring dunk from Joel Ayayi. At that point in the game, the Trojans had amassed only 34 points total.

Gonzaga finished with 46 paint points.

And the Zags’ defense wasn’t too bad, either, holding USC to 38.7% shooting and making it so that the Trojans’ All-American center, Evan Mobley, could do nothing to turn the tide despite 17 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Isaiah Mobley led the Trojans with 19 and seven rebounds and Drew Peterson scored 13.

USC turned the ball over on its first two possessions, with Gonzaga’s 6-foot-10 center Drew Timme stealing the ball from Trojan guard Tahj Eaddy, then intercepting a pass as the Bulldog press panicked the Trojans.

Less than two minutes into the game, USC head coach Andy Enfield needed to call a timeout, his team down 7-0 and his frustrations over Isaiah Mobley’s transition defense on the previous possession boiling over.

There was a second unplanned pause early in the first half as referee Bert Smith collapsed flat on his back in front of the Gonzaga bench. A heavy silence hung over the stadium as medical staff rushed to Smith’s side.

The official eventually stood up on his own power, drawing relieved claps from the crowd as he sat down on the stretcher and was taken into the tunnel. Smith was not taken to the hospital, though, as the NCAA reported he was alert and stable.

Once the game resumed, Timme continued his domination of the action. The second-team All-American spun his way to the basket, finished awkwardly at the rim, and cut when USC overcommitted and left him open.

For every post move, it seemed, he had a different celebration, flexing, shrugging at his own brilliance or running his fingers through his thick mustache. He led all scorers with 23 points on 10-for-19 shooting.

USC found itself down by a season-high 22 points in the second half, but mostly played Gonzaga even after halftime. In the end, the Bulldogs’ utter domination of the first dozen or so minutes of the game was enough to ensure the result.

The dispiriting defeat ended what had been one of the best seasons in the history of USC men’s basketball.

The Trojans (25-8) came within percentage points of a regular-season Pac-12 title. They made the Elite Eight for the fourth time and first since 2001, handing Kansas its worst NCAA Tournament loss along the way.

But sometimes you run into a force that can’t be stopped, and that was Gonzaga on Tuesday night.

ocregister.com

__________

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TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 9:09 pm

Bruins to Final 4. 51-49 Had SC played MI, SC would have won. Bruins get the Zags.

Rock2112
Diamond Member
Rock2112 (@rock2112)
March 30, 2021 9:23 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

As lucky as the Bruins have been this tourney, if I am Gonzaga’s HC, I am issuing extra-tacky shower mats to my players to make sure no-one slips and has a fall before Saturday.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 10:03 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Zags win by 15+. No shot for the gutties. They won’t be able to handle Timme or back court.

Rock2112
Diamond Member
Rock2112 (@rock2112)
March 31, 2021 9:38 am
Reply to  Chris

Alabama couldn’t hit a free throw late to save their lives. Michigan couldn’t make a layup late to save their lives. Gonzaga scores with command. They are going to eat the Bruins alive (as they did us).

Jamaica
Knighted Member
Jamaica (@jamaica)
March 30, 2021 9:09 pm

Heard the color commentators say after the game, a top notch guard will control the game over a top notch center in a playoff setting. And boy did Gonzaga’s Suggs take over this game. If Enfield is a student of the game, he knows he needs a ball handling guard that can also shoot, along with a big center.

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
March 30, 2021 9:29 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

You win the point — by a large margin IMO. And many fans also forget, James Worthy was on that team, also a HOF player.

RialtoTrojan
Noble Member
RialtoTrojan (@rialtotrojan)
March 30, 2021 8:36 pm

Earlier this season I mentioned what a jinx I could be when it comes to Trojan Basketball. I was careful not posting anything about basketball this season. I wore my Trojans gear only on days when I was sure we weren’t playing. But today Helton (a bigger jinx than I) wished the basketball team luck.
I’m off the hook.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
March 30, 2021 8:08 pm

So now lets talk spring football!! It has been nice coming on here the last couple of weeks and not reading about how bad of a coach Clay Helton is.