No. 1 Gonzaga try to remain at the top against Creighton
There was no Maui hangover for Gonzaga.
And, if you believe sophomore wing Zach Norvell Jr., the players didn't seem all that impressed by the team's new perch atop the national polls.
"If you walk around this locker room, I don't think too many guys are hyped about it," Norvell told the (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review. "You still have to play your best every night. It brings a bigger target on our backs, but it's dope, just seeing all the hard work we put in."
The Zags (7-0), coming off a 102-60 rout of North Dakota State on their first day at the top, take their No. 1 ranking on the road to face Creighton on Saturday in Omaha, Neb.
Gonzaga's 91-74 win over the Blue Jays a year ago in Spokane was something of a coming-out party for Norvell.
He told the Spokesman-Review he has fond memories of his 21-point second-half performance as the Bulldogs roared back from a seven-point halftime deficit.
"A little bit," Norvell said. "I think it's where the whole thing all started, you could say."
But things didn't begin well for Norvell, who was making his first start for the Zags. He was 0-for-5 from 3-point range and didn't score in the first half.
After his breakout second half, Norvell started 29 of Gonzaga's last 30 games as a redshirt freshman.
This season, Norvell has made 22 3-pointers to lead the team, and he is second in minutes (29.3), points (17.3), rebounds (5.6), assists (3.7) and steals (1.6).
Norvell said he is ready for what will certainly be a big, noisy crowd at Chi Health Center, which holds more than 17,000 people.
"As a kid, you dream of playing in big arenas like that, and I like playing away," he said. "We're just as anxious to go at them. Having that X on our back (as the nation's No. 1 team), everybody has been coming into practice locked in and ready to go."
After beating Boise State, Georgia State and then-No. 16 Clemson to take the Cayman Islands Classic, Creighton (6-1) turned home and throttled Montana 98-72.
The Blue Jays have now won four straight since a 69-60 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 15, and they've scored at least 87 points in each of those games.
Creighton coach Doug McDermott was happy his team didn't get caught looking ahead.
"For them to get locked in is a credit to them, especially a young team," McDermott said, according to the Omaha World-Herald. "We had a lot of contributions from a lot of guys (Wednesday). Obviously, we're going to need that again Saturday."
The Blue Jays are 0-2 all-time hosting the nation's top-ranked team.
They fell to Villanova 80-70 on New Year's Eve in 2016 and 84-73 to DePaul in 1980.
Gonzaga, which was No. 1 in 2013 and 2017, is 11-2 when leading the poll.
Updated December 1, 2018