Going into this contest, BYU had lost their last 6 games to the Zags. Having just cracked the AP Top 25 and soaring in most Bracketology rankings, BYU had to prove themselves on a crazy night filled with students that had camped out for days for this game.
Gonzaga is ranked second in the nation for a reason. They are a tournament team every year and often picked as one of the favorites to win it all. They had only lost one game early in the season prior to this one. They had a They had a conference win streak dating back to 2018. Earlier this season they beat BYU by 23 points in Spokane. They came into tonight as slight factories vs BYU but what they got was not what they expected.
BYU has a senior laden team that stuck together even when there were moments of doubt during the game. The score was close most of the game and at any point it was easy to feel like Gonzaga might go on a run.
BYU had great individual and team performances tonight. Let’s look at the main reasons the Cougars made the 13 point upset:
1. Yoeli Childs was sensational: This Senior had his second straight double-double with 28 points and 10 rebounds. You could see the emotion on his face pumping up the team on senior night with his powerful dunks that swung the momentum towards BYU’s favor.
2. The Big 3 was once again solid: The trio of Haws, Toolson and Childs had a solid outing as they accounted for 67% of their team’s points. On a night when Alex Barcello struggled to find his shot, it was great to see the three seniors lead the team.
3. BYU assisted well while protecting the ball: The Cougars had an impressive 2.2 assist to turnover ratio for the night. Their ball movement was a beauty to watch. On the opposite side, their defense and loud home crowd pressured the Bulldogs to record 15 assists to 14 turnovers. For nearly every assist, they were giving a possession to BYU. That’s not going to win you many ball games. Often times BYU scored three point shots off the steals which definitely swung the game in their favor.
Last but certainly not least we cannot go without giving at least some superstitious credit to Joe “Walkman” Wheat for finishing the year with a perfect 3-0 record when he walks around the concourse for games. An article was written prior to the game and can be viewed here.