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Did TCU fuel Gonzaga with Big 12 diss? 'They didn't sound so smart with their comments'

By Henry Krueger,


In the midst of his final run at a college basketball national title, Gonzaga's Drew Timme doesn't have trouble staying motivated as he understands every game could potentially be his last in a Bulldogs uniform.

However, TCU gave the All-American forward a little bit more to think about heading into Sunday's second-round NCAA Tournament matchup in Denver.

With Gonzaga considering a move to the Big 12 Conference , which TCU is a part of, Horned Frogs forward Chuck O’Bannon said he believed the league's defensive intensity would bother the Zags.

O’Bannon's sentiment was echoed by other members of the team , which Timme took exception to by scoring 28 points and leading Gonzaga to an 84-81 win over TCU at Ball Arena.

“To take some shots at us, me and our program, it's a little bit of lighter fluid on the fire if you wish,” Timme said after the game. “I mean, I thought TCU is a highly educated school and they didn't sound so smart with their comments pregame.”

Gonzaga's offense struggled to connect from the 3-point line in the first half against TCU, but Timme had no issue in the paint, scoring all but one of his buckets from inside the arc. He finished the game 12-for-21 from the field and drilled his only 3-point attempt.

The win advanced the Zags to the Sweet 16 , but it also strengthened the argument that Gonzaga would remain competitive if it joined the Big 12. While that seems to be the popular opinion among the program's fanbase, it still remains a question across the college basketball world.

“They’ll be able to come in and make an impact for sure, but I don’t think they’ll ever dominate as much as they did in the West Coast Conference,” said TCU forward JaKobe Coles to The Athletic.

Coles has a point when you consider the Big 12 sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament while the WCC sent two. It's also worth noting that Gonzaga's adjusted defensive efficiency (99.5) would rank second-to-last among Big 12 teams this season.

Still, a number of players in the Big 12 see the potential addition of the Zags as beneficial for the conference and Gonzaga's program.

“It’ll only make them better,” said Baylor guard Adam Flagler to The Athletic. “Them being so elite offensively, you’re going against the best of the best defensively. No way you can go but up at that point.”

In regards to Gonzaga and the Big 12's mutual interest in a partnership, there haven't been any updates since Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark discussed the topic before the conference's annual tournament.

“I like Gonzaga,” Yormark said earlier this month. “Obviously a great program. My focus right now is to see what happens throughout our industry. There’s a lot of moving parts. I continue to have conversations with Gonzaga. But I think, as I prioritize what our next move might be on expansion, there’s other things right now that I’m focused on.”

Yormark met with newly appointed WCC Commissioner Stu Jackson in Denver this past weekend. It's unclear what was discussed, but it seems both conferences understand that building a relationship is in their best future interests.

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