Indianapolis – Joel Ayayi, a junior defender of Bordeaux, France, with a sly grin and a silky jumper, considers himself Leinfant as terrifying In the Gonzaga men’s basketball team.
On a powerhouse squad where everyone knows his role – Corey Kispert is the Dade shooter, Jalan Sagging Darvesh and Drew Tieme as the chieftain’s magician – Ayae Meera rides as a prankster.
He can knock on the door of a hotel and hit the bottom of the hallway. When he stands on his left, he can tap a teammate on the right shoulder, or jump from behind the door to startle someone. He is racking his brain to find out what’s next.
“I’m taking any ideas,” Iyer told reporters on a video conference call last week.
If the antics seem childish, his companions tolerate Ayyashi because his pranks are only about the troubles he has endured this season. Certainly, there has been little on the basketball court this season in the way they have gone through their program.
It was no different on Sunday, when the No. 1 seeded Zags cruised past No. 5-seeded Creighton, 83–65, Hinkle Fieldhouse To earn a berth in 8 rounds against Southern California on Tuesday night. The Trojans defeated the No. 6 seed in the West Region, seventh-seeded Oregon, 82-68, in Sunday’s final game.
The most spectacular game of the day – and perhaps the tournament – upset UCLA’s second-seeded Alabama in 88-78 overtime. The Crimson Tide halted the rally after dropping 11 points and sending the game into the regular with a four-over tenth on Alex Reese’s 26-footer.
But the 11th-seeded Bruins, who suffered a 14-point deficit to defeat Michigan State in overtime in the game, dominated the extra period, even without their stalwart, Johnny Xujang, who scored 2 minutes 26 Turned out with seconds. In regulation. Of Alabama’s many regrets, only 11 would make 25 free throws.
The Bruins played top-seeded Michigan, capitalizing on a 50-point show in the paint to crush fourth-seeded Florida State 76-58.
Gonzaga (29–0), who is trying to become the unbeaten men’s basketball national champion for the first time since Indiana in 1976, had only a margin of victory by less than 10 points this season. It has three tournament wins of 43, 16 and 18 points.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said, “We are not hanging on the undefeated thing.” I think this is the biggest place from where you don’t want to end it. I am sure if you asked them, they wanted them to play 25 more games together. Therefore you do not want to end it.
Gonzaga played that way on Sunday.
One afternoon when Kispert was unusually quiet, he attempted just one 3-pointer in the first 30 minutes, and the Suggs made six turnovers, a game-high scorer with 22 points, front and center in the low-herald start that included Timme went.
Point guard Andrew Nimbord scored 17 points and had 8 assists, and Ayay contributed 13 points and 8 rebounds. His six 3-pointers were jointly an escort of Creighton who dared to shoot him. And it was also a platform to showcase Nimbord’s skills, a transfer that could be overlooked but was the first freshman in Florida to start every game since Bradley Beal.
A few times Nemhard was put in pick-and-rolls with Timbe, and sat back and watched him make good decisions one after the other, as the ball was soon rolling around the court. 23 of Gonzaga’s 34 baskets came via an assist.
“If you make a mistake, they’re going to pay you for it and create any easy opportunity for a pass,” said Brighton coach Greg McDermott last week, giving the Zags one of the best passing teams they’ve ever seen . . “It is one thing to be selfless; Being selfless is another matter and the ability to get the pass on time and in the right place. “
McDermott is no stranger to Gonzaga. This was the third time they had met in the last four seasons. Creighton led each of the 7 in halftime in the previous games, with only Gonzaga scoring 54 and 62 points in the second half to come away with the win.
There was no such drama on Sunday.
No matter the problem Gonzaga can face, the answer is always more crime.
Marcus Zagrowski dipped a 3-pointer midway through the first half to pull Crayton to within 27-25, the Bluejays simply could not keep pace. The Bulldogs’ lead was comfortable with a 43-33 lead and only so big that the ball stuck around the court with ruthless efficiency.
“It is our all-weather identity,” said Nemhard. We play best when we are rolling the ball because we have so many pieces and so much versatility. It’s just like playing in the park with a bunch of people who click. “
In the next eight days, when the tournament ends, who will challenge Gonzaga?
Teams in their quarters of the bracket are handicapped by coronaviruses. The Virginia Commonwealth was eliminated from the tournament due to positive cases and could not play its first-round game against Oregon. Third-seeded Kansas and fourth-seeded Virginia tied up with him to advance to the first round and bowed out early (though both lost to Gonzaga early in the season).
Crayton also had his own disruption this month when McDermott was suspended for telling his players after the loss to Xavier that “I need everyone to stay on the plantation,” a metaphor that enslaved players. Mix images as. McDermott, who was suspended only after widespread outrage – including some former Croyton players – was reinstated after missing a game and making an apology.
Creighton advanced to the Big East Tournament Championship but was driven by Georgetown. The Blues were almost upset by 12th-seeded UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA tournament before the race in Ohio’s second round.
The Jags’ undo has often been defensively lengthy teams and forced the Jags to defend. Texas Tech used that formula to knock out the Zags in the West Regional Finals in 2019, and Florida State upset them in 2018. At one end in Southern California, Gonzaga has a height of annoyance and is quick to abandon Dribble to do so in Oregon. Second end. But they are also not ready to reach for this reason.
However, all upsets were pointed out in this tournament.
“I hope people realize how tough it is; This is literally the toughest job in our game that is progressing in this tournament, ”said some coaches, a team whose team is making it easy.
Alan blinder Contributed to reporting.