No. 2 Gonzaga stomps BYU men’s basketball 90-57

Don’t let anyone fool you — what occurred in the Marriott Center Saturday night was a basketball game, not a demolition derby.

It’s easy to see why one might have confused the two. BYU men’s hoops was completely totaled by No. 2 Gonzaga 90-57 in one of the ugliest trainwrecks in recent program memory.

Fans of the movie “Space Jam” would have been thrilled by the game’s narrative. Gonzaga played like the Monstars before Michael Jordan showed up, and the Cougars played like the NBA players after their talent was stolen.

Unfortunately for BYU, they didn’t have Michael Jordan. They didn’t even have a Bill Murray.

Nothing could go right for the Cougars, who shot a dismal 30% from the field and were blocked nine times by the towering Bulldogs. Gideon George and Seneca Knight led the way with 14 and 13 points each, but when George and Knight are BYU’s leading performers, it is usually cause for concern.

Atiki Ally Atiki loses the ball between Gonzaga big men Drew Timme, left, and Chet Holmgren. (Decker Westenburg)

Alex Barcello, Fouss Traore and Atiki Ally Atiki were all non-factors and failed to make any sort of impact, with Caleb Lohner continuing his recent struggles for 1-of-7 shooting and four turnovers.

Not great, Bob.

“We’re gonna have to find some new creative answers,” head coach Mark Pope said. “We’ve got to reinvent ourselves a little bit. Our destiny is still in our control.”

It’s hard to determine what was more comical— the scoreboard, or the fact that hundreds of BYU students spent the past three days sleeping on the ground in freezing temperatures just to get a better seat for the bloodbath. There would be no court storming this year, other than the rush of fans who flocked to take pictures with visiting football alumni Zach Wilson and Dax Milne once the smoke cleared.

There’s a reason why Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren has been pegged as the potential first overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, and BYU proved to be the perfect victim for showcasing his violently talented skillset. The prodigious freshman tallied 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks…in the first half. Whoever was in the Cosmo suit had a better chance of stopping Holmgren than any of the Cougars on the court.

Longtime Cougar killer Drew Timme posted 13 points and five rebounds for the Zags, while Holmgren ultimately finished with 20 points and 17 boards. Julian Strawther and Andrew Nembhard each added 19 and 15 points, respectively, as each of Gonzaga’s five starters reached double digits in scoring and shot more than 50% from the field.

With the loss, the Cougars have dropped four straight games for the first time in the Mark Pope era. Skating on seriously thin ice regarding its tournament chances, BYU has five more games in the regular-season slate to steer back to safety.

“Everything is still in front of us. That’s a powerful thing,” Pope said. “We can make it the greatest comeback story ever, and I dig it.”

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