PREVIEW: Gonzaga continues pursuit of perfect season vs. Creighton

Mar 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) dribbles while fended by Oklahoma Sooners forward Brady Manek (35) during the second half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Gonzaga Bulldogs won 87-71. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Celebrated, but not satisfied.

That was the feeling for top overall seed Gonzaga after it advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the sixth consecutive time, beating No. 8-seed Oklahoma 87-71 Monday.

That set up a West Regional matchup Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis with fifth-seeded Creighton, which beat No. 13 Ohio 72-58 in the second round.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few was doused with water in the locker room and did a celebratory handstand after his team’s 32nd consecutive victory dating to last season.

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“We’ve been celebrating every one of these wins. We celebrated the other night (a 98-55 first-round victory against Norfolk State). We celebrated this one. If we’re lucky enough to get another one, we’re going to celebrate like crazy for that one,” Few said. “This tournament needs to be celebrated, man.”

The Bulldogs (28-0 overall) posted their 25th consecutive victory by double digits in beating the Sooners.

Forward Drew Timme scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Gonzaga.

“Obviously, it’s a childhood dream,” Timme said of reaching the Sweet 16. “This feeling is only going to last the rest of the night and then we’ve got to prepare and we have a lot of work to do. We’re not satisfied with this. This is not the end goal.”

That would be winning the national title and becoming the first undefeated champion since Indiana 45 years ago.

“You gotta bring that fire because all it takes is one good game (by the opponent) and you can be out,” said Timme, referring to the fact a No. 1 seed, two No. 2s and two No. 3s have already been eliminated.

Corey Kispert, one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy as college basketball’s player of the year, and freshman standout Jalen Suggs added 16 points apiece against Oklahoma.

While the Bulldogs have made the Sweet 16 an almost annual occurrence, Creighton (22-8) will be making its first trip in 47 years.

Marcus Zegarowski scored 20 points to lead the Bluejays past Ohio.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling,” Zegarowski said. “This is a two-year kind of thing for us. We had it taken away from us last year (when the NCAA Tournament was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic). Everything we’ve been through this year is for moments like this, and I’m happy we capitalized and came through.

“But you know, we’re not done yet. This is just the start.”

Creighton had a much easier time Monday than it did in the first round, when it edged UC Santa Barbara 63-62 on Christian Bishop’s two free throws with 16 seconds remaining.

Read More: RECAP: Drew Timme scores 30 to lead No. 1 Gonzaga past No. 8 Oklahoma

“The first game of this tournament, I think we were kind of almost on our heels a little bit — almost maybe a step too slow,” Zegarowski said. “We were kind of just in our own heads, including myself. … I just think we play better when we play free and we just play loose, trying to enjoy each other.”

Damien Jefferson added 15 points for the Bluejays in their win over Ohio.

“Their focus was good in the film room (Sunday) and (Monday morning) before we went over at shootaround,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott, who was suspended for a game earlier this month after making a racially insensitive remark to his players in the locker room. “And they were hungry to play.”

–Field Level Media