Coming into the 2020 Fort Myers Tip-Off, everyone knew the best game of the men’s college tournament would be the first: No. 2 Gonzaga versus No. 5 Kansas.
As expected, it was a competitive matchup. The Zags eventually pulled away and defeated the Jayhawks 102-90 thanks to a dominant shooting performance, with five players reaching double-figures. Drew Timme led the way with 25 points for the Zags, while Miles Garrett had 22 for Kansas.
For Mark Few, it was career win No. 600. Few, 57, has been the coach at Gonzaga since 1999.
“From the first one to this one, it’s never been about me,” Few said. “It’s been about the guys, the unbelievable group I’ve been able to coach throughout these 22 years or whatever it’s been. It’s also been the people I’ve been able to coach with. It’s been an awesome run, and tonight was evident of that.”
Jalen Suggs made his highly anticipated collegiate debut and didn’t disappoint. He had 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting with four rebounds and eight assists. After his first basket, an alley-oop from Joel Ayayi, Suggs received a technical foul for exchanging words with KU’s Marcus Garrett.
“I was playing patient, picking my spots and picking my moments,” Suggs said. “This is my first game in eight months. It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a journey. Transitioning to college has had its ups and downs. When I got out here today, I was looking to play loose and have fun with the game.”
Gonzaga’s transition game was strong, netting 28 points on fast breaks, compared to 15 for Kansas. It was the first time a Bill Self-coached Jayhawks team has surrendered over 100 points since Nov. 11, 2016, when Kansas lost to Indiana.
“It’s not the happiest Thanksgiving so far,” Self said. “We played a great team that’s full of talent. They have four guards that may be the best four guards we play all year long. I don’t think that us not being able to guard them was a huge surprise, and to hold them under 70 points, I didn’t think we could do that.
“But we can’t let a team like that shoot over 64 percent. The reason they did was because they shot a lot of layups and took advantage in the transition. Those are things I think we can do a much better job of and correct, but I think their speed and how fast they played definitely surprised us early.”
Gonzaga will take on Auburn at 11 a.m. ET on Friday while the Jayhawks face Saint Joseph’s at 2 p.m. ET.