Jalen Suggs, No. 1 Gonzaga Rout Evan Mobley, No. 6 USC to Earn Final Four Berth

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2021

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme, right, celebrates in front of Southern California guard Tahj Eaddy, left, after making a basket during the first half of an Elite 8 game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Thirty up. Thirty down.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs moved to 30-0 on the season Tuesday, easily dispatching of USC 85-66 in the Elite Eight of the NCAA men's tournament.

Any stubborn, lingering doubts about just how good this Gonzaga team is were again dismissed. Gonzaga's offense has long been dynamic, but it was the pesky defense that set the tone early and forced the Trojans into 10 turnovers. Big man Drew Timme outplayed likely top-five NBA draft pick Evan Mobley. Jalen Suggs carved up USC's defense as both a scorer and a facilitator.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Drew Timme and the Zags making it look easy in the first. Timme leads all scorers with 15 points 💪 https://t.co/Z0Mnkai05J

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Drew Timme is in the zone ♨️ @ZagMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/tUqqxMxRMh

Jay Bilas @JayBilas

USC is the top shotblocking team in the country. The Trojans have blocked zero of Gonzaga’s shot attempts. Zero.

It was another comprehensive performance from Gonzaga, which continues to look like the clear favorite to win the title. Three Final Four teams are now set, with Houston and Baylor punching their tickets Monday.

The game did have a scary moment, as referee Bert Smith collapsed on the court in the first half. He was taken off the court on a stretcher, though he was sitting up and conscious at the time. As of halftime, Smith did not require hospitalization.


Key Stats

Drew Timme, Gonzaga: 23 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals

Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga: 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists

Corey Kispert, Gonzaga: 18 points, eight rebounds, 6-of-19 from the field

Evan Mobley, USC: 17 points, five rebounds

Isaiah Mobley, USC: 19 points, seven rebounds

Drew Peterson, USC: 13 points, six rebounds


Gonzaga's Big 3 Overwhelmed USC

Timme was fantastic down low with his interior scoring, found his cutting teammates at the basket with fantastic passes and even pressured USC on the perimeter when Gonzaga ran pressure defense.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Timme picking up the dime he dropped 👀😂 @ZagMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/Z9uF3qtPbO

Jeff Borzello @jeffborzello

Drew Timme is annihilating the best interior defender in the country.

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

Drew Timme looking like the lottery pick right now. Going to work on the Mobley Brothers. Already has 13 points in the first 8:30 minutes of the game. Zags 23, USC 8

Corey Kispert didn't have his most efficient scoring night, but he still provided a threat from three (3-of-10) and hurt USC with some fantastic cuts. It's scary that Gonzaga was so dominant even while Kispert struggled from the field.

And Suggs was excellent, attacking the basket and routinely finding his teammates for easy buckets.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Suggs threading the needle 👀🧵 @ZagMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/o9ZCGUsI4v

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jalen Suggs unstoppable on his way to the rim 🔥 Gonzaga out to an early lead https://t.co/87rKGO6wNs

At times, it felt like Gonzaga was running a layup line, the offense flowed so smoothly. It helps when your stars have totally bought into the team concept and executed it near flawlessly. Good luck beating the Zags with these three at the helm.


Evan Mobley Played Well, Just Not Well Enough

Given how dominant the Zags were Tuesday, Evan Mobley could have played his best game of the season against them and it might not have mattered. There was a clear talent disparity on display in this one.

But it's also fair to note that Mobley was simply outplayed down low by Timme. Mobley has more raw talent, but Timme's added year of experience played a factor in the head-to-head matchup.

Jonathan Wasserman @NBADraftWass

Mobley clearly a top prospect, some scouts think he deserves #1 consideration. Main concern stems from slender body type/lack of physical aggression. Just 15-40 out of post this year, and tho other factors go into rebounding %, his is lower than almost every recent lotto big's: https://t.co/3SwSpUPkv4

Andy Glockner @AndyGlockner

Mobley with 30 more pounds on him and a couple years of NBA seasoning is going to be a load.

You can bet NBA scouts will take a good, long look at this game when scouting Mobley. It may not hurt his draft stock too much, if at all—it's just one game in an excellent overall season—but he looked like the fourth-best player on the court behind Suggs, Kispert and Timme.


What's Next?

Gonzaga awaits the winner of Michigan vs. UCLA on Tuesday evening. Both Final Four games will be held Saturday at times to be determined.