The No. 1 Gonzaga University men’s basketball team (2-0) knocked off the No. 5 Texas Longhorns (1-1) by a final of 86-74 in one of college basketball’s highly anticipated matchups of the season. Drew Timme recorded a career-high 37 points on 15-for-19 shooting from the floor.
“It was a great team effort,” Timme said. “We don’t take these games for granted. It’s a privilege to play a team like that.”
Ironically, it was the Texas-native that tore apart the Longhorns defense.
Accounting for GU’s first seven points, Timme orchestrated the offense from the low block. Whether it was in transition or pick-and-roll sets, the preseason All-American continued to create mismatches for himself against UT’s guards. As a result, he racked up a quick 13 points while shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor.
As the Longhorns began sending double-teams his way, Timme showcased his decision-making by finding the open man. Nursing a four-point lead after five minutes of play, Timme made UT pay after finding an open Nembhard on the perimeter, who swung it to Julian Strawther for a three-pointer. A few possessions later, Timme found a cutting Nolan Hickman for an easy layup while the Longhorns continued to apply pressure.
Physical on offense, the junior forward utilized his basketball IQ on defense. While guarding UT’s Timmy Allen for a majority of the first half, Timme was able to play help side defense in the paint. He managed to draw a charge on Marcus Carr while contesting shot after shot around the rim.
At the half, GU led the Longhorns 47-27 after guard Rasir Bolton banked in a shot from half-court as time expired. Timme led the way with 22 points, as the Zags shot 59.4% from the floor.
For the Longhorns, the offense ran through the veteran backcourt duo of Carr and Andrew Jones. The pair accounted for seven first half points while shooting a combined 3-for-9 from the floor. Allen led all UT scorers with seven points.
Despite shooting 35.7% as a team in the first 20 minutes of action, the Longhorns found a rhythm to start the second half. As GU’s offense slowed, multiple defensive stops allowed for UT to run in transition. Slowing cutting into the deficit, a corner three-pointer from transfer Devin Askew and a layup from Allen made it a 60-48 ballgame.
“We kind of went basket-for-basket with [Texas] in the second half,” GU head coach Mark Few said. “They kept attacking us.”
While the Zags possessed the height advantage in the frontcourt, UT continued to crash the glass on missed shots. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Longhorns had five offensive rebounds, two of which were from Allen.
As the lead shrunk, the Zags went to their big man for a spark.
Just as he did in the opening minutes of the game, Timme carried the Zags offense, accounting for GU’s first nine points in the second half. After converting two layups, the 6-foot-9 forward split the Longhorns’ zone defense with a bullet pass to Chet Holmgren for his first and only basket of the night. The next possession, he found Bolton for a three-pointer to extend the lead.
“I think [Bolton] hit some huge shots tonight,” Few said. “That’s why he’s here, that’s why we want him here, and he’s shown he can do that throughout his career.”
As the Bulldogs nursed a double-digit lead midway through the second half, the two top-five teams traded blows. A three-pointer from Tre Mitchell was immediately answered by Bolton less than 30 seconds later. With the crowd on its feet, Tre Mitchell silenced The Kennel by knocking down a shot from deep.
But as time ran out on the Longhorns, the Zags kept up the pace. Following a turnover from UT’s Courtney Ramey, Nembhard found Nolan Hickman for a timely three-pointer to put GU up by 16 with three minutes to play.
From there, the Zags ran out the clock to win its 53rd consecutive home game, the longest such streak in the nation. Bolton tallied 16 points, including 4-for-6 from deep, while Anton Watson had 10 points in 19 minutes of action.
The No. 5 Longhorns are the highest-ranked opponent GU has hosted at home. Previously, that title belonged to Washington State in 2007, when the No. 6 Cougars defeated the Zags in Spokane. GU’s last home game against a top-25 opponent was in 2017 when No. 25 Creighton came to town.
Saturday’s game was also the second-earliest matchup between top five teams in a season, behind Friday’s contest between No. 2 UCLA and No. 4 Villanova.
The Bulldogs are back in action on Monday against Alcorn State at 6 p.m. in the McCarthey Athletic Center.