Jalen Suggs, No. 1 Gonzaga Top No. 8 Oklahoma to Reach Sweet 16

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2021

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme (2) pulls down a rebound while playing Oklahoma in the first half of a college basketball game in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ Mast/Associated Press

In a tournament full of upsets, No. 1 Gonzaga avoided disaster with an 87-71 win over No. 8 Oklahoma.

Three top-two seeds have already been eliminated early in the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament, but Drew Timme scored a career-high 30 to help the No. 1 overall seed advance to the second weekend.

Oklahoma provided significant resistance throughout the game, jumping out to a surprising eight-point lead early in the first half. The Bulldogs eventually took control and built a 12-point halftime lead that grew to 19, although the underdogs never went away.

Austin Reaves made numerous tough shots on his way to 27 points, cutting the deficit to single digits with under two minutes remaining.

Gonzaga simply had too much firepower and used elite free-throw shooting (23-of-26) to hold on and eventually pull away Monday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Gonzaga improved to a perfect 28-0 on the season while reaching the Sweet 16 for the sixth straight tournament.


Notable Performances

Drew Timme, F, GONZ: 30 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists

Corey Kispert, F, GONZ: 16 points, 3 rebounds

Jalen Suggs, G, GONZ: 16 points, 3 assists, 3 steals

Austin Reaves, G, OKLA: 27 points, 2 assists, 12-17 FG

Alondes Williams, G, OKLA: 15 points, 2 rebounds

Kur Kuath, F, OKLA: 2 points, 4 assists, 5 blocks


Drew Timme Leads Another High-Scoring Attack for Gonzaga

Gonzaga is so difficult to defend because there are too many players who can beat you.

Drew Timme had just 10 points in Round 1 but scored 30 Monday on 9-of-12 from the field. The big man was unguardable at times in the post:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Drew Timme makes the defender jump 😮 https://t.co/6VSYoRHPcv

Jalen Suggs had 16 points after tallying just six points in the win over Norfolk State, calmly running the show with key plays on both ends.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jalen Suggs tough cross and finish 😯 https://t.co/Q2Fa1IxJiz

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jalen Suggs is too smooth 😨 https://t.co/4gdP9zylX6

Seth Greenberg @SethOnHoops

Taking nothing away from anyone but Jalen Suggs is my number 1 pick-in the @nba draft. He is a flat winner. Makes winning plays. Plays both ends, competes every play!!!!

Corey Kispert was held in check early but still finished with 16 points.

When the team wasn't dominating in the half court, it was turning defense into easy buckets on offense:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Zags turning defense into offense 😤 @ZagMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/5yk4i76Ypy

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jalen. Suggs. Cash. https://t.co/YuYrh51ESS

The Bulldogs didn't do anything flashy in the first half but quietly built the lead to double digits, even with Oklahoma playing at a high level:

Dana O'Neil😷 @DanaONeilWriter

Oklahoma played really well. Shot 45 percent. Did what it wanted. Still trails by 12 at the half.

Nick Bahe @NickBahe

Gonzaga is so good. It felt like Oklahoma can’t play much better than they did and they are on pace to get beat by 20.

The second half was more of the same. The Sooners made key shots and seemingly did everything they could to win yet couldn't cut the margin enough for a comeback.

While the matchups will only get tougher in later rounds, the Bulldogs will clearly be a difficult team to stop in this tournament.


Austin Reaves Show Not Enough for Oklahoma

You want your senior leader to step up in big games, and Austin Reaves did just that for Oklahoma.

The guard played with no fear on his way to 27 points as he kept the Sooners in the game.

CBS Sports @CBSSports

HOLY FINISH! Austin Reaves in traffic, through contact, UP AND UNDER. ...oh, and he hit the freebie. https://t.co/MEre5wTfgf

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Austin Reaves is COOKING 🔥 He has 24 PTS https://t.co/053vuXNzVP

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

AUSTIN REAVES CAN’T MISS 😱 https://t.co/tCtmaWWzbo

Those watching along couldn't help but be impressed with the talent and effort on display from the Wichita State transfer:

Jason McIntyre @jasonrmcintyre

Austin Reaves: 3-star recruit, no ranking in state, 1 offer. He’s been the best player on the floor through 10 mins vs undefeated Gonzaga https://t.co/WS8pWDijuo

Morgan Beard @morganbeard

Austin Reaves is playing even more out of his mind than he normally plays. Absolutely bringing it to Gonzaga early. Dude’s feeling it

FanDuel @FanDuel

Austin Reaves does NOT want to go home

The challenge for Oklahoma was finding more production offensively, especially with second-leading scorer De'Vion Harmon unavailable due to NCAA protocols.

Kur Kuath made a huge impact defensively with five blocks.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

WHAT A BLOCK. https://t.co/Su1SqFObdP

Alondes Williams had some big moments in the second half, but it wasn't enough to keep up with the best team in college basketball. 


What's Next?

Creighton and Ohio will now battle for the chance to face Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Sunday.