FORT MYERS, Fla. — Canada’s Andrew Nembhard had 11 points and three assists in his Gonzaga debut and the No. 1 Bulldogs pulled away to beat No. 6 Kansas 102-90 on Thursday.
Just days after the six-foot-five guard from Aurora, Ont., had his transfer from Florida approved by the NCAA, Nembhard played 32 minutes in the season-opener for both teams.
Nembhard, a junior, had initially declared for the NBA draft for a second straight year before once again removing his name.
Drew Timme scored 25 points, Jalen Suggs had 24 and Corey Kispert added 23 to top Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs built a double-digit lead in the first half at the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off, then saw the Jayhawks tie it twice in the second half before putting them away. Gonzaga went on a 22-7 run to go up 96-78.
Suggs, who got in foul trouble in the first half, scored 17 of his 24 in the second half.
Marcus Garrett led Kansas with 22 points and Ochai Agbaji added 17 points. Agbai picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half, which hurt the Jayhawks. When he left, Kansas trailed 70-67.
The Jayhawks rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half to tie the game at 57.
Gonzaga went on a 12-3 run to take a 20-9 lead. Timme scored eight of those points from the inside. He and the Bulldogs constantly broke down Kansas’ defence, which led to three layups in a row.
With Gonzaga leading 29-15, Kansas made a couple of runs to cut the deficit to as little as five. However, Kispert heated up and kept the Jayhawks at bay. Gonzaga led 54-46 at the half.
The Bulldogs showed great balance. While they outscored Kansas 30-14 in the paint, they made 5 of 10 3-pointers. They also made 68% of their shots in the first half (21 of 31).
Three Gonzaga non-athletes were isolating in their hotel rooms after one tested positive for the coronavirus.
A total of 112 tests were given and no players from any of the four participating teams tested positive, tournament officials said. Auburn and St. Joseph’s also are participating in the tournament.
The way these teams played each other, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Gonzaga and Kansas meet again late in the NCAA Tournament, maybe the Final Four.
The Bulldogs are deep and look like they can play defence as well as any of coach Mark Few’s teams. They can score from the inside and the outside.
Kansas never gives up. Not many teams in the country could get in a 14-point hole to the nation’s No. 1 team and come back to tie it. However, the Jayhawks couldn’t recover from Gonzaga’s second offensive attack.
Gonzaga, which is playing four morning nonconference games in West Coast time, including top-10 matchups with Baylor and Iowa, will play Auburn on Friday at 11 a.m. ET.
Kansas, which also has a challenging nonconference schedule including Kentucky and Creighton, will play St. Joseph’s on Friday.
— With files from The Associated Press.
The Canadian Press