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Mike Lopresti | | January 18, 2021

Gonzaga's undefeated start told in 25 otherworldly numbers

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The news from college basketball over the weekend was that Gonzaga could struggle. Gonzaga could look ordinary. Why, Gonzaga could even...trail by 10 points!

No wonder there was a minor earthquake in the region of Moraga, California during the second half. But still no word yet that Gonzaga could lose. While there were various other oddities from college basketball over the weekend — which we’ll get to a minute — there was status quo in Gonzaga’s 73-59 win at Saint Mary’s Saturday night. And now that the 14-0 Bulldogs are past what is usually one of their most dangerous WCC house calls, and would seem to have the No. 1 ranking in a vise, we can update the latest collection of numbers from Zagland. They glow almost every year. This season, some of them have been on another planet.

Saturday was the first time they didn’t score at least 85 points. Doing that 13 games in a row was something not seen in Division I college basketball in 14 years. Doing it the first 13 games of a season hadn’t happened in at least 30.

Thursday’s victory over Pepperdine pushed Gonzaga to 95-0 against all West Coast Conference schools not named BYU or Saint Mary’s. It has now been 2522 days, going back to 2014, since the Zags lost to anyone else. They’ve beaten four league teams at least 20 times in a row.

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Freshman Jalen Suggs is shooting 53.7 percent. That’s the lowest for any of Gonzaga’s starters.

The Zags have won 46 home games in a row, 24 of them by 30-plus points, and 31 by at least 20.

Coming out of Saturday’s game, Gonzaga led the nation in scoring and shooting, was third in assists per game, seventh in assist-turnover ratio, and 20th in rebound margin.

In the 16 year-history of its current arena, Gonzaga has won 15 league titles — and lost 15 home games.

Gonzaga has now gone 39 games in a row topping 50 percent inside the 3-point line.

Four different Gonzaga players have scored 20 points in a game this season. Nine have reached double figures.

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The Zags have the leading scorer in the West Coast Conference, Corey Kispert. Also the second leading scorer, Drew Timme. And the top three shooters in the league in Joel Ayayi, Timme and Kispert. Suggs leads the WCC in steals. Andrew Nembhard, who usually comes off the bench, has the best assist-turnover ratio.

Five different Gonzaga players have been named WCC player of the week.

The Zags are now 45-2 their last 47 games. Michigan and BYU last season own the exceptions.

Going back to their Final Four season in 2016-17, they’re 147-13. Kispert has played in 119 games in his college career. He has lost 10.

Ayayi’s 12 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists against Portland gave him the first triple-double in Gonzaga history. He had it with 17 minutes still left in the game. He didn’t commit a single turnover.

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Ayayi is also the team’s leading rebounder, as a 6-5 guard. He had 18 rebounds against Iowa, the most by a guard in Gonzaga’s Division I era, going back to 1958.

Coming into this season, Gonzaga had been ranked No. 1 for 14 weeks in its entire history. The Zags are there for a ninth consecutive week in 2020-21.

Gonzaga hasn’t lost a conference opener this century.

Gonzaga went 9-0 in non-conference play, only the second time since 1958 the Zags have done that. They went unbeaten despite playing four ranked teams, and traveling more than 12,000 miles.

With wins over Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa and Virginia, they became the first team ever to beat four top-20 opponents in its first seven games. They led Kansas by 18, Iowa by 20 and Virginia by 33. West Virginia pushed them before losing 87-82, but the other three ranked teams led Gonzaga for a total of 3:19 out of 120 minutes.

The Bulldogs have now won eight games in a row against ranked opposition.

Since 2007-08, Gonzaga is 109-26 in true road games.

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The Zags shot 60.3 percent against Virginia. Nobody had topped 60 percent against the Cavaliers in 12 years.

Gonzaga is scoring 54.9 points a game this season, just in the paint. That included 80 in one game against Portland. The inside-the-paint gap over opponents this season is 768-414.

Unusual? You bet. But there were also other uncommon doings over the weekend.

Miami upset Louisville with only seven healthy scholarship players. The four returning Hurricane starters from last season are all still injured . . .

Alabama crushed Arkansas by 31 points to go 6-0 in the SEC for the first time in 34 years...

Oregon State beat Arizona State 80-79 in the last seconds after 17 ties and 20 lead changes, leaving the formerly top-25 Sun Devils 4-6, and without a victory in a month...

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Pittsburgh rolled over Syracuse 96-76, meaning the only two games the Panthers have played – and won – in the past 25 COVID-plagued days were against the Orange. Pittsburgh piled up 64 points in the second half Saturday, so the Panthers outscored Syracuse 109-67 after halftime in the two games...

UCLA and USC both won their sixth consecutive games for 11-2 records, continuing the college basketball surge in southern California. The Bruins are 7-0 in the Pac-12 for the first time in 27 years, the Trojans are 5-1 for the first time since 2002 . . .

Texas, with three players missing for undisclosed reasons, overcame Kansas State 82-67 led by 15 points and 25 minutes from reserve Kamaka Hepa, who until Saturday had gotten off the bench for barely eight minutes all season and scored three points . . .

Butler, who came into Saturday with a 3-7 record, shot 31 percent the second half and was outscored 26-3 in one stretch, but still found a way to upset No. 8 Creighton 70-66 in overtime...

Baylor held off Texas Tech 68-60 in their 141st meeting, but first ever with both teams ranked in the top-15. Baylor All-American Jared Butler was 0-for-9 with six turnovers, until he buried a couple of crucial late 3-pointers. Baylor will be in the top-5 of the polls for the 20th consecutive week. Before that, the Bears had been there only 12 weeks in their entire history...

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Navy swept American to go 9-1, its best start in 37 years, since a promising freshman center was coming off the bench named David Robinson...

Florida State beat North Carolina 82-75 by making 26 of 27 free throws...

Kentucky held Auburn to 38.3 shooting, but lost anyway. John Calipari is now 205-21 when the other team doesn’t shoot 40 percent, but two of the defeats have come this season...

William & Mary went the final 7:35 without a field goal but still rallied from nine points behind to get by Drexel 69-64. The Tribe managed that by making 19 of 24 free throws. Freshman Connor Kochera, who had taken 10 free throws the first eight games of his career, was 11-for-12 the last 3:17...

Purdue missed its first 14 attempts from the 3-point arc, finished 6-for-32, but still defeated Penn State 80-72. The two teams combined to put up 71 3-pointers...

Minnesota wiped out previously unbeaten Michigan 75-57, only 10 days after getting blown out by the Wolverines 82-57. It was the end of a nine-game stretch for the Gophers against opponents who were either ranked at the time they met or are ranked now. They zigged-zagged through this minefield 5-4, beating top-10ers Iowa and Michigan and drilling Ohio State by 17 points and Michigan State by 25 — but also losing by 27 to Illinois, 12 to Wisconsin, 25 to Michigan and 15 to Iowa. “It’s just been weird,” coach Richard Pitino said.

Speaking of weird, back to Gonzaga. In their first 13 games of the season, the Zags trailed only 28 of 520 minutes. Saint Mary’s had them down for nearly 14 minutes of the first half Saturday, and whether that exposed some Gonzaga vulnerability, time must tell. The ending looked kind of normal, though.

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