As short as it may be, UCLA is hoping for another classic matchup against Gonzaga

Tears before the end of an epic collapse.

The 40-footers entered the rumble.

You know, you know. And everyone does it.

Drama is guaranteed as UCLA takes on Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.

The teams have met three times on college basketball’s biggest stage, creating two of the event’s most iconic moments. Start with Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison crying before the end of a 2006 regional semifinal as Bruins fans remember announcer Gus Johnson’s breathless recounting of the final seconds.

“And the robbery…Farmar…inside…freshman up…and on they go!”

Fifteen years later, Morrison was on Gonzaga’s IMG Radio call when Jalen Suggs was probably inside halfcourt in that heave to lead the Bruins to a Final Four win.

“Yes, sssss!” Morrison bellowed, drowning out his radio partner. “Yes! Yessssss!”

What’s next? CBS broadcasters Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner and Stan Van Gundy will no doubt be hoping for another classic finish Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena as second-seeded UCLA (31-5) faces third-seeded Gonzaga (30-5) in a West Regional semifinal . .

There will be no fear in Las Vegas, but a lot of disgust. Much of the animosity will come from the Bruins, who have lost to the Bulldogs the past two years, including a 20-point defeat on the same court in November 2021.

Gonzaga also prevailed in the teams’ only other NCAA tournament meeting, a 12-point victory in a regional semifinal in 2015, and is 5-2 against UCLA.

Those who believe in the power of symmetry can root for the Bruins. Thursday marks 17 years since UCLA blew a 17-point comeback deficit against Gonzaga in Oakland in that regional semifinal, and oddsmakers have tipped the Bruins as two-point favorites.

But the short-handed UCLA may run out further. After enduring the loss of top guard Jaylen Clark, the Bruins completed a second-round win over Northwestern with freshman center Adem Bona in pain after aggravating a shoulder injury and senior shooting guard David Singleton sidelined by an ankle.

As Bona sat in his dressing room with his shoulders tightly wrapped, Singleton said he was “fine”. Status updates are expected Tuesday when coach Mick Cronin meets with the media.

Clark plans to head to Las Vegas with his teammates after being in Southern California for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. He is just beginning his recovery from a lower leg injury sustained in the final game of the regular season.

UCLA’s Adem Bona is in pain after being pulled from the game against Northwestern as teammate Mac Etienne looks on during the second half of the second round of the NCAA tournament in Sacramento on Saturday.

(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

“It’s going to be fun to have him around,” Singleton said last weekend in Sacramento. “I miss him and I wish he was here, but things happen. I’m glad that somehow, somehow, he can be a part of this.”

Clark is among seven players on UCLA’s roster from the team that lost to the Bulldogs two years ago. Fifth-year senior center Kenneth Nwuba played less than a minute in that game, but could play a prominent role Thursday, winning the defensive role for Gonzaga’s Drew Timme if Bona is unable to go with a shoulder injury.

The mustache-stroking Timme led the Bulldogs to their eighth straight Sweet 16 with a 28-point effort in the second round against Texas Christian on Sunday, suggesting he was inspired by the Horned Frogs’ fans online.

“If you want, throw lighter fluid on the fire,” Timm told reporters. “I thought TCU was a very educated school and they weren’t that smart with their comments.”

After a home loss to heavily overlooked Loyola Marymount and a tie with Saint Mary’s for the West Coast Conference regular season title, the Bulldogs have reeled off 11 straight wins to secure the nation’s longest winning streak. .

UCLA has been just as hot, winning 14 of 15 games to reach the Sweet 16 for the third straight season under Jaime Jaquez Jr. and frontman Tyger Campbell.

“Mick has done a great job of injecting his personality and toughness into that program,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few told reporters. “Very defensive and a lot of isolation, the ball will be in Jaquez and Tyger’s hands a lot.”

UCLA hasn’t had much luck in Las Vegas since winning the Pac-12 championship in 2014 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Bruins have lost their last six conference championship games at T-Mobile Arena, dropping a game there against North Carolina in the 2019 CBS Sports Classic and where Gonzaga ran away last season.

Bulldogs fans outnumbered their Bruins counterparts inside the arena that night, giving them a loud last word.

There will be more cheers on Thursday, with each team rooting for what could be another historic final.

Source link

Related posts

Texas cattle found dead with tongue cut out


Yankees shortstop Nestor Cortes bounced back one start after suffering from strep throat


Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell felt “left behind” by the Timberwolves before the trade


Leave a Comment