Busting Brackets

Gonzaga Basketball: 3 reasons why Bulldogs pulled off the upset win over Kentucky

Gonzaga v Kentucky
Gonzaga v Kentucky / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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3. Ryan Nembhard looked like Andrew in the second half

While the bigs were huge reasons for the win, I do have to acknowledge the backcourt duo of Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard and their work, combining to play 77 of 80 minutes. Hickman, a former Kentucky commit at one time, produced 17 points, including the final free throws to seal the win.

Nembhard didn’t have the same kind of scoring output, having six points on 1/7 shooting and 0/3 shooting from deep. To his credit, he still played one of the best true point guard games of the season, dishing out nine assists to just four turnovers in 40 minutes played.

Seven of those assists came in the second half, including a few fantastic passes to Ike and Watson on screenplays. When Gonzaga was trailing in the second half, Nembhard didn’t panic and unlike other games against top opponents, didn’t try to force it on himself to be the lead scorer and take shots. Instead, he kept getting the ball inside, where Gonzaga had the advantage.

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On paper, Sheppard may have won the PG battle, scoring all of his 21 points in the second half. Still, his mistakes towards the end helped cost Kentucky, whereas, the poise Nembhard showed late helped Gonzaga. His shot may still not be back but the Creighton transfer still had a massive impact in the upset win.