Gonzaga reminds nation who's No. 1, handling No. 3 Iowa after extended COVID break

Krysten Peek
·2-min read

The Gonzaga Bulldogs showed why they’re the No. 1 team in the country on Saturday, beating No. 3 Iowa, 99-88.

No one knew how ready the Zags would be after not playing a game in 17 days and having five games either postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. It was the most anticipated matchup of the weekend, with the preseason AP Player of the Year candidate Luka Garza from Iowa and projected lottery pick Jalen Suggs from Gonzaga sharing the floor. The Zags were 3-0 heading into the game, having previously beaten Kansas, West Virginia and Auburn. Iowa was coming off a monster win against North Carolina where it made 17 threes against Roy Williams’ squad and easy wins against Iowa State and Northern Illinois.

The game was evenly matched for the majority of the first half until the Zags went on a 14-0 run late and extended the lead to 51-37 heading into the break. Suggs had 18 points and senior Corey Kispert added 11 in the first half alone.

Garza did his part, scoring 14 out of Iowa’s 37 first-half points but the Hawkeyes shot poorly as a team, digging themselves into the largest halftime deficit of their season.

Iowa struggled to find any rhythm in the second half and even with a couple Gonzaga players getting into foul trouble, the Zags were too deep for Iowa and came off the court with an easy win.

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) shoot a 3-pointer during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020 in SIoux Falls, S.D. (AP Photo/Josh Jurgens)
Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) shoot a 3-pointer during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020 in SIoux Falls, S.D. (AP Photo/Josh Jurgens)

Garza, a 6-foot-11 senior, led Iowa with 30 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. He is now averaging an impressive 29.2 points and nine rebounds for the season. Iowa’s guards tend to live and die by the 3-point shot and today was not their day. Iowa shot 4-of-22 from deep (18.2%) in the worst shooting performance of its season.

Gonzaga freshman Jalen Suggs had a season-high of 27 points — including seven 3-pointers — and is looking incredibly comfortable on the court. Suggs is the highest-rated recruit to ever commit to Gonzaga and is the glue to this talented, deep Gonzaga team. Sophomore forward Drew Timme finished the game with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Even after the extended break off the court, Gonzaga looks like the strongest college basketball team in the country. They have a deep and talented bench and upperclassmen leaders like Kispert and Joel Ayayi who are great facilitators on offense.

The Zags will face Northwestern State, who is 1-6, on Monday night while Iowa will look to bounce back against a tough Purdue team on Dec. 22.

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