FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s going to take more than getting up early in the morning to beat Gonzaga.
Drew Timme had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Corey Kispert scored 25 points and the top-ranked Bulldogs cruised past Auburn 90-67 on Friday in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off.
Timme, who left the game with about eight minutes remaining, went 11 of 16 from the field. Kispert made four 3-pointers. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga’s highest-rated recruit, added 12 points and six assists.
“We feel we can score on anybody,” Timme said. “We’ve got great coaching. If we execute our offense and move the ball and not get stymied, we feel we can score on every team.”
Allen Flanigan scored 20 points to lead Auburn (1-1), which is replacing five starters from last season.
A day after beating No. 6 Kansas 102-90, the Bulldogs (2-0) started strong in a game that tipped off at 11 a.m. – or 8 a.m. for the players’ body clocks.
An 11-0 run gave Gonzaga an early 16-6 lead. The sequence featured a three-point play by Timme, a 3-pointer by Jay Ayayi, a steal and slam by Suggs and a 3-pointer by Kispert.
“We had different games against high-level athletes and we responded with a short turnaround,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We had a meeting at 11 p.m., then got up at 7 a.m. That’s a 4 a.m. wakeup with a walk-through in the parking lot. We’re throwing a lot at these guys.”
Gonzaga played without Julian Strawther, who tested positive for COVID-19. Few said the teams’ medicals staffs worked together and followed Florida protocols to play the game.
“That’s how the preseason went,” he said.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 17 points in the first half and had a 49-35 advantage at halftime.
In the second half, another 11-0 run made it 74-47 and the margin went as high as 30 points.
“They like to play fast,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “They play good defense but they’re not elite so there will be more possessions. The shot clock isn’t running down. They can score anytime. Mark is a brilliant offensive coach. Everything they run is well thought out. They absolutely can average in the high 90s.”
FEW VS. SEC
While this was the first meeting between Auburn and Gonzaga, Few is 3-1 when coaching against Pearl. Overall, Few is 12-8 vs. Southeastern Conference teams. The Bulldogs only have played an SEC school once in the NCAA Tournament. That was in 2017 when Gonzaga beat South Carolina 77-73 to reach the national title game, which it lost to North Carolina.
Gonzaga: One of Few’s concerns coming into the game was how his team would fare on the boards against Auburn. However, the Bulldogs finished with a 44-32 rebounding advantage.
“I thought we’d have a big problem keeping them off the glass,” Few said. “So without drilling them on rebounding, we challenged the guys and they stepped up. We challenged Drew to get a double-double and he sneaked one (rebound) there at the end to get 10.”
Gonzaga has perhaps fewer concerns about its inside game on offense. The Bulldogs scored 62 points in the paint against Kansas and followed that with a 52-point effort against Auburn.
Auburn: Pearl, who has made the Tigers NCAA Tournament regulars, said the key to returning in 2021 is to keep improving.
“We have 10-11 good players and we need our first five players to get better than our second five and we’re not there yet,” he said.
Another Power Five opponent awaits Gonzaga, which faces No. 15 West Virginia in Indianapolis – site of this year’s Final Four – on Wednesday.
Auburn plays at Central Florida on Monday.