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Home / Sports / Gonzaga's frontcourt trio carries bulldogs past Florida State, and may carry them to a national title

Gonzaga's frontcourt trio carries bulldogs past Florida State, and may carry them to a national title



ANAHEIM, Calif. – All season long, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have been open in the top tier of college basketball through their elite.

1 in offensive efficiency, via KenPom.com, scoring 125 points per 100 possessions. They upset No. 1 Duke in November by hanging 89 points on Zion & Co. They scored 100 or more points in five games this season. Brandon Clarke, their NBA-bound small-ball five, is one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball, scoring more than 70 percent of his field-goal attempts.

But in Thursday night's sweet 1

6 72-58 win over a big, physical Florida State team – a game where Gonzaga never trailed – they did it's a completely different way: they're defensively one of the best defensive teams in the game. They brought Mark Few to his third Elite Eight in five years. Gonzaga to his first national title: potential NBA lottery pick Rui Hachimura, potential NBA lottery pick Brandon Clarke, and likely NBA draft pick Killian Tillie.

It's the most well-rounded frontcourt in college basketball. Hachimura out-physicaled the big, physical Florida State frontcourt, scoring 17 points and grabbing four rebounds while playing strong defense. Clarke showed why his future as a do-it-all small-ball NBA big is so incredibly bright: 15 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. And Tillie gave the Zags a floor-stretching element, hitting one's 3-pointers but opening up lanes for his teammates to drive, and creating their own 3-pointers.

"I have the full package in the frontcourt, "senior point guard Josh Perkins told me after the game. "An athletic guy who can switch one through five and catch lobes above the backboard, a pick-and-pop guy who makes every [3-pointer] he shoots and so can one through five, and Asian Persuasion, who has all-around game

While Hachimura has had the hype around him all season long – it was Hachimura who was selected to preseason All. American Teams – It's Clarke Who Has Risen the Most on Draft Boards and in the Year of College Basketball Coaches this Season. A year ago, Clarke was watching his dorm room as Gonzaga lost to Florida State in the Sweet 16. He was a late-blooming man. This season he's been an absolute revelation, perhaps the most athletic player in Gonzaga history.

"The one thing Brandon does, he always finds a way to get the ball up on." the rim and his ball usually goes in, "Few said. He's been unbelievable on the defensive end, which he knew was going to be. But he's worked diligently and just put in tons and tons of hours, and he's been coachable., Those are great combinations when somebody is working hard and they're coachable and then he's around a great, accepting group of guys who want to give him the ball. "

This may be Gonzaga's most talented team ever, and the second most talented team in the country, behind Duke. A Florida state run and put Gonzaga back in control – and an experienced senior point guard in Josh Perkins – a 3-point threat in Zach Norvell. More than just talent, though, what Gonzaga has in his corner is a culture that knows what to do in those tough moments.

"It's winning!" an animated Few said after the Sweet 16 win. "It's Winning, It's The Culture Of Winning! And, oh, yeah, the older guys are teaching the younger guys." This is what you're doing at Gonzaga Baylor did, like Florida State did, and the older guys, sometimes they say something, and sometimes it's their actions … That's just what winning does over the years. "


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