FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Corey Kispert recorded career highs with 32 points and nine 3-pointers, leading No. 1 Gonzaga to a 98-75 romp over 16th-ranked Virginia, the most recent NCAA champion, on Saturday.
The game at a neutral site in Texas was essentially the Zags’ replacement for what was supposed to be a 1-2 matchup against Baylor in early December in Indianapolis.
After that game was called off less than 90 minutes before tipoff because of COVID-19 issues, Gonzaga ended up on national TV on CBS in Baylor’s home state instead in its fourth game since a five-game pause because of the coronavirus.
Kispert was 9 of 13 from long range, including one about a foot from the midcourt logo followed immediately by another from several feet behind the arc in the year-old Fort Worth arena that is supposed to host the American Athletic Conference tournament in March.
Drew Timme also had a career high with 29 points and led the Zags (7-0) with eight rebounds. Gonzaga now has the nation’s longest neutral-site winning streak at seven games and has beaten four ranked opponents before the start of conference play for the first time in school history.
Kihei Clark scored 19 points and Trey Murphy added 15 for the Cavaliers (4-2), who dropped to 1-31 all-time against top-ranked teams almost 35 years since their only victory.
The matchup of one of the best offenses in the country against one of the best defenses wasn’t much of a contest, with Gonzaga shooting 60% with superior ball movement and screening. Virginia hadn’t allowed an opponent to shoot better than 40% this season.
The Zags’ offense was so efficient, Virginia coach Tony Bennett tried to slow it by using a timeout three times when the media break was set for the next dead ball. The last of those came after Kispert’s two long 3s and a putback from Timme that put Gonzaga ahead 62-38 early in the second half.
Virginia: The Cavaliers barely avoided giving up at least 100 points for the first time since a 106-63 loss to Washington on Nov. 22, 2010, Bennett’s second season. Virginia had three straight games scrapped because of COVID-19, including against No. 5 Villanova and 12th-ranked Michigan State. The Cavaliers returned with a 76-40 win over William & Mary on Tuesday.
Gonzaga: The Zags didn’t cool off at all in the second half after Kispert came out hitting 3-pointers almost from the start. Gonzaga shot 68% after halftime to beat Virginia for the third time in four meetings in the series. It was the first meeting in 14 years.
Virginia: At Notre Dame in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener Wednesday. The ACC opener was supposed to be Dec. 16 at Wake Forest.
Gonzaga: Northern Arizona at home Monday in the last of four consecutive games added after the five-game coronavirus pause.