UCLA expects another classic tilt with Gonzaga
The tears before the end of an epic collapse.
The 40-footer banked in at the buzzer. If you know, you know. And most everybody does.
Drama is assured when UCLA faces Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.
The teams have met three times on college basketball’s biggest stage, producing two of the event’s most iconic moments. Start with Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison crying before a 2006 regional semifinal was over, Bruins fans committing broadcaster Gus Johnson’s breathless narration of the final seconds to memory.
“And the steal … Farmar … inside … the freshman up … and they go in front!”
Fifteen years later, Morrison was on the call for Gonzaga’s IMG Radio when Jalen Suggs improbably banked in that heave from just inside halfcourt to beat the Bruins in the Final Four.
“Yesssssss!” Morrison bellowed, drowning out his broadcast partner. “Yesssssss! Yesssssss!”
What’s next? CBS broadcasters Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner and Stan Van Gundy are undoubtedly hoping for another classic finish Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena when second-seed UCLA (31-5) faces third-seed Gonzaga (30-5) in a West Regional semifinal.
There will be no fear but plenty of loathing in Las Vegas. Much of the hostility will belong to the Bruins given they have lost to the Bulldogs in each of the last two years, including a 20-point rout on this same court in November 2021.
Gonzaga also prevailed in the only other NCAA tournament meeting between the teams, a 12-point victory in a 2015 regional semifinal, and holds a 5-2 all-time record against UCLA.
Those who believe in the power of
symmetry might favor the Bruins. Thursday is the 17-year anniversary of the UCLA’s comeback from 17 points behind during that regional semifinal against Gonzaga in Oakland, and oddsmakers have given the nod to the Bruins by making them two-point favorites.
But short-handed UCLA might be further depleted. Having persevered through the loss of top defender Jaylen Clark, the Bruins completed their second-round victory over Northwestern with freshman center Adem Bona in pain after aggravating a shoulder injury and senior sharpshooter David Singleton sidelined by a rolled ankle.
While Bona sat at his locker with his shoulder heavily wrapped afterward, Singleton said he was “fine.” Status updates are expected Tuesday when coach Mick Cronin next meets with the media.
Clark is scheduled to accompany teammates to Las Vegas after having remained in Southern California for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. He’s just beginning a lengthy recovery from a lower-leg injury suffered in the final regular-season game.