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Drew Timme and his mustache prepare to face USC’s front line

Keep the ‘stache!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Creighton at Gonzaga IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are hoping the Drew Timme mustache celebrations continue as they take on the USC Trojans in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday night.

One of the biggest questions for this matchup is how Timme will compete against Evan Mobley, one of the top NBA prospects. His coach and teammates are confident he can handle it.

Timme takes basketball seriously, but he constantly shows his playful side. The sophomore averaged 20.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in the first three tournament games. He is shooting 66.7% from the field while also rocking some interesting facial hair that his mom hasn’t completely approved.

After getting into the Sweet 16, Timme said his mom would probably understand if he kept the mustache because he has been performing well with it. Her mind was probably swayed a little bit more after former NBA star Dwayne Wade had a video chat with her son.

Wade asked Timme about the famous mustache, which has been a popular topic of conversation on broadcasts and Twitter. Timme said he does it to bring a little bit of comic relief during games. Wade told him to convince his mom to let him keep it.

The rest of the Zags agree with Wade.

“Every time he has that ‘stache he’s been playing well, so I’m all for the ‘stache,” Andrew Nembhard said while holding back some giggles. “He’s that type of person with that type of personality. It fits him, so it’s something we are all for, honestly, at this point.”

Timme has fun celebrations during games, but he also likes to have fun before the tip off. One of his pregame rituals is giving head coach Mark Few a chest bump.

But no matter what facial hair or celebrations he chooses on Tuesday, the focus will be on his basketball skills. Evan Mobley can make an impact on both sides of the ball. He is averaging fewer points than Timme in the tournament, but he supplements his 12.3 points per game with an average of 10.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. Both players are averaging 4.3 assists per game.

The 7-foot forward helped the Trojans reach their first Elite Eight since 2001. He is expected to go near the top of the NBA Draft board along with Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs. Suggs plays a different position, so it will be Timme who has to directly compete with Mobley on Tuesday.

One of Gonzaga’s less strong points earlier this season was competing against teams with size, but Few said playing against teams like Loyola Marymount, BYU and West Virginia taught the Zags how to handle big teams. Mobley won’t be the only danger. His brother Isaiah, a 6’10 forward, is also one to watch. Few is aware of the difficult challenge, but he is confident Timme can pull it off.

“I think Drew’s had a great approach all year. Look at the consistency he’s had. He knows what’s at stake in this game, he is a great competitor,” the coach said. “He’s faced size before, obviously. Probably not size with as much as this talent the Mobleys have, but I’m sure Drew is looking forward to it.”

Corey Kispert also believes in his teammate’s ability because he has seen him learn and improve throughout the season. The senior said Timme used to struggle against double teams but that now he is “an absolute master” at them.

Whatever USC decides to do, Kispert said, Timme should be able to handle it because his feel for the game is “second-to-none.” He has already gone against other talented centers like Iowa’s Luka Garza and Kansas’s David McCormack.

“Drew wants to go toe to toe with the best of the best, that’s a sign of a competitor,” Kispert said. “All of the facial hair and giggling, laughing and celebrations aside, Drew is a dawg.”