SPOKANE — Jalen Suggs put up plenty of impressive numbers for No. 1 Gonzaga against Brigham Young, but after the game, his coach and teammates wanted to talk about something that doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet — his passing.
Suggs had 16 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and a blocked shot as the Zags beat BYU 86-69 on Thursday.
“He has so many gifts and one of his greatest gifts is his vision,” Zags coach Mark Few said. “You have to be very confident to be able to execute passes like that.”
Suggs, a freshman who played quarterback in high school, acknowledged that he takes pride in long, highlight-reel passes. He threw one nearly the length of the court that allowed Joel Ayayi to score.
“I love throwing passes,” Suggs said. “It makes not playing football a little easier.”
Suggs also shut down BYU leading scorer Alex Barcello, holding him to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.
“You always have a chance to impact a game by shutting down the other team’s best player,” Suggs said.
Corey Kispert scored 23 points as Gonzaga jumped to an early lead and coasted to victory in a hastily scheduled game after both teams lost their original opponents to COVID-19 issues.
Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard added 12 points each for Gonzaga (11-0, 2-0 West Coast Conference), which won its 45th consecutive home game, the longest streak in the nation.
Matt Haarms and Caleb Lohner each scored 13 points for BYU (9-3, 0-1), which had not played since Dec. 23 after a pair of WCC games were postponed because of COVID-19. BYU was hurt by poor shooting most of the game.
Gonzaga was supposed to play Santa Clara on Thursday and BYU was scheduled to play Pacific. But both those teams had to drop out because of COVID-19 protocols, so Gonzaga and BYU decided to play each other a month early.
BYU’s long layoff was evident early, as the Cougars committed five turnovers in the first four minutes to fall behind 16-2. Gonzaga made seven of its first nine shots.
“On the defensive end we played 30 minutes of really, really solid basketball,” Few said. “They’re a good offensive team. … We ball-hawked really well and swarmed to the ball really well.”
BYU coach Mark Pope did not speak to reporters.