PROVO — If No. 4 Gonzaga has any weaknesses, they were not discernible Thursday night at the Marriott Center.
The Zags looked every bit a top-5 team in their 93-63 demolition of BYU. They were as good as advertised, maybe better. They had pinpoint passing, a relentless fast break and torrid shooting.
Yes, Gonzaga put on quite a show. The dominating performance had many in Provo wondering, How is this team ranked only fourth in the country?
The Bulldogs’ athleticism, depth and talent were on full display throughout the night against the Cougars. Not even a spirited crowd of 15,396 could help BYU.
Gonzaga led by as many as 32 late in the second half, when many around the country watching on ESPN2 had already fallen asleep.
Forward Brandon Clarke led the way for the Zags with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Rui Hachimura added 20 points and nine rebounds. Going into the game, Clarke was leading the nation in field goal percentage (69 percent) and he made his first eight shots and finished 10 of 13.
Corey Kispert chipped in 16 points, Zach Norvell Jr. had 12 and Josh Perkins contributed six to go along with 10 assists.
As a team, Gonzaga shot a blistering 58.7 percent from the floor. The Zags outrebounded BYU 41-31. They outscored the Cougars 50-32 in the paint, 17-6 on fast-break opportunities and 14-4 on second-chance points.
BYU’s TJ Haws scored a team-high 16 points and Zac Seljaas added 13, including three 3-pointers. Yoeli Childs fouled out with 12 points, his second-lowest scoring effort of the season.
Gonzaga improved to 20-2 and 7-0 in the West Coast Conference while BYU fell to 13-10 and 5-3. With the win, the Zags secured their 22nd consecutive 20-win season.
Gonzaga has now won 28 consecutive conference games on the road, which is the longest active streak of its kind in the nation. The Zags’ 21-game win streak over league foes is also the longest active streak in the country.
In the second half, BYU put dents into Gonzaga’s big leads, but the Cougars couldn’t whittle the margin into single digits.
The Cougars shot much better in the second half than they did in the first, but they had already dug a deep hole. And that hole only got deeper the longer the game went on.
In the game’s opening minutes, BYU forced a couple of turnovers, but it didn’t take too long for Gonzaga to seize an early lead thanks to a 17-2 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Norvell and Kispert.
The Cougars couldn’t capitalize on their chances at the rim early as they missed a flurry of shots in the paint. BYU hit just three of its first 13 shots from the field while the Zags made 13 of their first 23.
Childs didn’t take a shot until six minutes into the game, but he scored eight straight to pull BYU to within 21-13 with 11:11 left in the half.92 comments on this story
Cougar guard Jahshire Hardnett, playing in his first game in nearly a month due to a hand injury, buried his first shot, a 3-pointer, that cut the deficit to 23-18 at the 9:41 mark of the half. It appeared, momentarily, that the Cougars were going to give Gonzaga a battle.
But then the Zags were unstoppable over the next seven minutes, going on an 18-2 run to seize a 41-20 advantage. BYU scored the final four points of the half to make the score 41-24 at intermission.
BYU hosts Loyola Marymount Saturday.