The Mercury News

Gonzaga's Timme, UCLA's Jaquez meet one more time

- By John Marshall and Mark Anderson

Drew Timme and Jaime Jaquez Jr. grew up in different states, yet often came across each other at AAU tournament­s, sometimes as roommates.

The two fancy-footworkin­g forwards with fantastic facial hair will be reunited tonight in the desert, when Gonzaga meets UCLA in the NCAA Tournament's West Region semifinals.

“We've just kind of grown up at the end of our careers together and just to kind of see him from afar, it's awesome to see,” Timme said Wednesday.

Since those early high school days, Timme and Jaquez have become the focal points for the West's two powerhouse programs.

The 6-foot-11 Timme has been one of the nation's best big men during his time in Spokane, Washington, leading the Zags to four of their eight straight Sweet 16 appearance­s, including the 2021 national title game.

Timme's impeccable footwork, multitude of up-fakes, soft touch and basketball smarts have made him a near-impossible matchup for opposing defenses. He's Gonzaga's all-time leading scorer and was named to the Associated Press All-America second team for the third straight season after averaging 21.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Timme also has a knack for taking over in big games, like he did last week by scoring 28 points in Gonzaga's second-round win over TCU.

“It's great to see him and all the success he's had there,” Jaquez said. “I credit that to all the hard work that he's put in. And it was very cool to have full-circle moments like that in life.”

Jaquez has had a similar impact — and game — at UCLA.

The 6-7 swingman has balanced and nimble footwork similar to Timme's, loves to throw multiple up-fakes in the post and always seems to make the smart play. He's been a part of UCLA's three straight Sweet 16 trips, including the 2021 Final Four, and was a secondteam AP All-American after averaging 17.5 points and 8.1 rebounds this season.

“He's super talented,” Timme said. “He can score at all three levels. He does everything for them, but he's just a hard, smart guy. He's always playing his tail off and working.”

Timme and the Zags won the last two meetings, in Las Vegas in 2021 and on Jalen Suggs' buzzerbeat­ing 3-pointer in the Final Four the year before.

As for the facial hair, that seems to be a draw.

Jaquez has stuck with the pirate-looking goatee throughout his career, while Timme has brought back the bristly mustache his mom once hated.

Rebounding Huskies

A key for Arkansas' bid to beat UConn in the Sweet 16 will be keeping the Huskies off the glass.

UConn was one of the nation's best rebounding teams during the regular season, averaging eight more per game than its opponents. The Huskies have been just as dominant so far in the NCAA Tournament, grabbing 16 more rebounds than Iona and nine more than Saint Mary's.

“A lot of teams will send three to the glass and two back, but they, almost every possession they're sending four to the glass,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “So we've got to do a good job defensive rebounding, and then we'll see how that affects our transition offense as well.”

Brother vs. brother

The White family text chain is relatively quiet right now.

No talking trash. No picking sides. Just a handful of “good luck” sentiments before arguably the biggest basketball game involving a handful of households with the same surname.

Nothing else needs to be said. Everyone knows the stakes because they've experience­d this level of competitio­n their entire lives. It comes with being part of “the First Family of college sports.”

But it doesn't make the Sweet 16 matchup between fourth-seeded Tennessee (25-10) and ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic (33-3) today any less awkward for brothers and fellow athletic directors Danny (UT) and Brian White (FAU).

“It's not ideal,” Brian White said. “But it's a reality at times.”

Added Danny White: “We always get kind of silent about competitio­n amongst each other. We talk trash about a lot of things but not about our teams competing against each other.”

As two of five children of longtime college administra­tor Kevin White, whose stops as AD include Tulane (1991-96), Arizona State (1996-2000), Notre Dame (2000-08) and Duke (200821), they know the cost of winning and losing. And they realize one of them will be on the wrong end of the scoreboard at Madison Square Garden.

“It's not fun for us `cause these games matter a whole lot,” Danny White said. “Getting into the Sweet 16 and advancing to the Elite Eight, which is going to happen to either us or FAU, that's a life moment that you'll always carry with you. So it's just too heavy to be flippant about.”

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