There was a stretch in late November and part of December where No. 9 Gonzaga was offering modest scoring outputs.
Those days are over. Through the last five games, all wins, the Bulldogs have averaged 100.8 points per game, while ringing up 111 Saturday in a 23-point rout of Pepperdine that started their West Coast Conference schedule.
Gonzaga (12-3, 1-0 WCC) tries to keep its roll going Thursday night when it visits San Francisco.
National Player of the Year candidate Drew Timme has been a primary reason for the Zags’ recent surge. Since Baylor held him to nine points on Dec. 2 in a 64-63 loss, he is averaging 27.3 points per game on 70.1-percent shooting from the field.
Against Pepperdine, Timme put up a 35-point, 10-rebound, five-assist masterpiece, going 15 of 19 from the field. Not only is he scoring 22.7 points on the season, Timme is chipping in 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
“I think I just got that extra gear now, I would say,” he said. “I know that in order for us to win and be the best that we can be, I have to do certain things night in and night out.”
Timme needs just seven points to pass Adam Morrison for third on the school’s all-time scoring list. Timme is a big reason that Gonzaga leads Division I in field-goal percentage (52.6) and is fifth in scoring at 86.9 points.
Julian Strawther is adding 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, while Rasir Bolton tallies 10.8 points. Three other players average between 8.1 and 9.3 points.
Strawther was good for 22 points against Pepperdine, after playing below expectations in his previous three games.
“Just coming in with the mentality that it’s a new season and I can come out here and make an impact,” Strawther said.
San Francisco (11-6, 0-2) is coming off an 80-68 home loss Saturday against San Diego. The result continued a recent slide for the Dons, who started 6-0 and have a losing record at 5-6 over their last 11 games.
USF has been wildly inconsistent. The Dons fashioned a 97-60 rout over then-No. 25 Arizona State on Dec. 21, one game after falling 68-63 at home to a Texas-Arlington team that at the time sported a NET ranking of close to 300.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, where you’re playing,” Dons coach Chris Gerlufsen said. “Our effort and approach need to be the same.”
San Francisco is a guard-oriented team offensively, led by Khalil Shabazz (15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists) and Tyrell Roberts (14.2 points). Forward Zane Meeks chips in 12.0 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game.
The Dons average 74.6 points per game but shoot just 43.7 percent from the field while averaging 13.7 assists and 14.4 turnovers.
The Zags have won 24 consecutive games in the series. San Francisco’s last win over Gonzaga was a 66-65 decision nearly 10 years ago on Feb. 18, 2012.
–Field Level Media