Gonzaga basketball has had one of the best seasons we’ve seen in recent college basketball memory. If they pull out tonight’s game against UCLA and go on to win the national title on Monday night, they’ll finish the first undefeated season in Division I since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.
The Zags have barely been challenged this season. West Virginia is the only team to lose to the Zags by single digits this year, falling 87-82 back on Dec. 2.
Gonzaga is winning by over 23 points per game, and in the NCAA Tournament that margin is up to 24 (though the 98-55 Round 1 win over 16-seed Norfolk State drives it up).
Through five tournament games, we’ve all learned that you can’t count out these UCLA Bruins, though. That is the case tonight so far. With just a few seconds left in the first half, Gonzaga star Corey Kispert hit a big three to take a 45-44 lead into the half. Had UCLA held on to the lead that they held for much of the first half, they would have been just the fourth team to have a halftime lead against Gonzaga this season.
Number of times that Gonzaga has trailed at halftime this season: 3 (none in the NCAA Tournament, latest BYU in WCC final)
— Greg Bishop (@GregBishopSI) April 4, 2021
BYU gave the Zags’ one of their biggest scares this season, at least relatively, taking a 53-41 lead into halftime of the WCC Championship Game. Gonzaga routed them in the second half, 47-25, to win 88-78.
Back on February 4, Pacific was upset minded, leading 32-31 at the half. A very similar second half to that BYU played out. Gonzaga rode a 45-26 second-half advantage to a 76-58 win.
The aforementioned West Virginia game was the first time this year that Gonzaga trailed at the half. WVU was up 39-34 at the break, but Gonzaga won the second half 53-43 to win by five in the closest game of the year for Mark Few‘s team.
UCLA couldn’t quite make it four, but they’ll gladly take a second half victory here, though that will be a monumental task. It felt at times like UCLA dominated the first half, and still ended it behind, and foul trouble could be a huge factor going forward.