SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Corey Kispert scored 23 points as top-ranked Gonzaga beat rival BYU 86-69 on Thursday in a hastily scheduled game after both teams lost their original opponents to COVID-19 issues.
Jalen Suggs added 16 points for Gonzaga, while Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard scored 12 each. Gonzaga (11-0, 2-0 West Coast Conference) 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.
The Cougars made only two of their first 12 shots to trail 30-7 with just over nine minutes gone in the first half.
BYU finally found its shooting touch and Haarms scored seven points as the Cougars got within 32-16.
Lohner's 3-pointer capped a 10-2 run and brought BYU within 39-26 with four minutes left in the first.
Gonzaga replied with a 13-0 run and led 52-29 at halftime, after holding BYU to 33% shooting and forcing 11 turnovers in the first. Five Zags scored at least eight points in the first, led by Kispert's 11 points.
Kispert scored six points during an 11-2 second-half run that lifted Gonzaga to a 73-42 lead.
This was supposed to be one of the tougher games remaining on Gonzaga's schedule and the Zags should remain on top of the poll if they win Saturday at Portland.
BYU: The Cougars are one of the few WCC teams that have enjoyed some success against Gonzaga in the past decade. Gonzaga’s last loss was at BYU last February. In 2017, BYU beat Gonzaga at home to end the Bulldogs' 29-0 start.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are among the last 10 unbeaten teams in the nation, and one of four teams that have at least 10 wins ... Gonzaga leads the nation in scoring offense (95.1 ppg) and field goal percentage (55.4%) ... Kispert leads the WCC in scoring (21.6 ppg) and shooting (63.4%) ... The Bulldogs have won 32 of their past 33.
BYU plays at Saint Mary's next Thursday.
Gonzaga plays at Portland on Saturday.
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