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As Drew Timme continues to improve, Gonzaga is looking unbeatable

The sophomore is a candidate for the Karl Malone Award.

NCAA Basketball: Pacific at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Timme is one of the best players for the No. 1 team in the country, but the Gonzaga sophomore doesn’t shy away from discussing areas in his game that need improvement. The high standards he sets for himself are the type of mentality that has helped Gonzaga stay on top.

“I can’t come out there and just throw some crap around the hoop,” he said. “I actually have to finish and deliver. That’s what I gotta do, that’s my role on this team.”

Timme, one of the top 20 shooters in the nation, was referring to his performance on Thursday. He scored a game-high 21 points as Gonzaga picked up a 90-62 win over San Diego, but he wasn’t happy with how the game started and saw room for improvement.

The Zags (17-0 overall, 8-0 West Coast Conference) started the game flat and allowed San Diego (2-7, 1-4 WCC) to hold the lead for more than half of the first period. Timme went 2-of-6 from the field in the first 10 minutes. The Toreros decided to play him one-on-one, and during the postgame press conference, he said he would like a do-over to take better advantage of that opportunity.

“I’m pretty mad at myself. I hope they do it again,” he said, laughing but not really joking. “I owe more to my teammates and the coaching staff. I’ll do better.”

During the postgame press conference, Few said the Toreros did a good job at disrupting Timme, but that the sophomore, like the rest of the team, eventually got over the hump.

“The problem with Drew is he’s so good that you have a tendency to think he’s going to make them all,” Few said. “But then, like he always does, he always figures it out. He solves it and ends up ‘stat-ing’ out great.”

By the end of the night, Timme’s stats did not look bad at all. He reached his 21 points by going 8-of-13 from the field, and also picked up seven rebounds.

The Zags picked up their 21st straight win on Saturday when they defeated Pepperdine, 97-75. Timme once again led his team in scoring, this time with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field.

That game also started out slow, but Gonzaga pulled off the victory while reminding everyone how deep its offense goes. The Zags had six players score in double figures, the second time this season (Timme with 19, Andrew Nembhard with 17, Corey Kispert with 16, Aaron Cook with 15, Anton Watson with 12, and Joel Ayayi with 11).

Timme has high expectations for himself, but it was no secret that he would be a powerful weapon this year. The 6’10 forward made last year’s WCC All-Freshman Team and All-Tournament Team. He averaged 20.5 minutes, 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while also having the best shooting percentage in his team at 62.1%.

This season, Timme is part of a deep Gonzaga offense as the second-most consistent scorer on the team with 18.7 points per game, right behind Kispert’s 20.2. His season high of 29 points came against the then-no. 16 Virginia on Dec. 26.

Timme knows he can score, so at the beginning of the season he decided to focus on becoming more well-rounded. He said one of the biggest improvements he’s had in the last few months is his post defense.

“I was kind of scared to pick up some fouls at first but I’ve been with the coaches a lot and we watch film, we watch other people play post defense,” he said. “I think we’ve found a little formula that’s been working and I think that’s probably what I’m most proud of.”

This month, Timme was named one of the 10 candidates for the 2020 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. Timme’s commitment to improving in all areas will help Gonzaga as a whole. The Zags have the best offense in the country, but are also getting some props on the other side, with KenPom ranking them No. 12 in defensive efficiency.

The Zags will attempt to continue their winning streak when they take on Loyola Marymount on Feb. 4.