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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga-UCLA key matchup: Johnny Juzang leader of Bruins’ improbable tourney run

UPDATED: Fri., April 2, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS – Johnny Juzang, and UCLA for that matter, didn’t seem to have much momentum entering the NCAA Tournament. Juzang scored just six points in a loss to Oregon late in the regular season and 12 in a first-round loss to Oregon State at the Pac-12 Tournament.

The 6-foot-6, 210-pound sophomore has been outstanding in March Madness. He’s the tourney’s leading scorer with 108 points, helped in part by playing in five games. That’s more than the 82 points he scored in his freshman season at Kentucky. Gonzaga’s Drew Timme has scored 85 points in four games.

Juzang has made 53.8% from the field and 35.3% behind the 3-point line while averaging 21.6 points. His season averages: 42.9%, 34.7% on 3s and 15.5 points.

Juzang and 6-6 wing Jaime Jaquez Jr. have been matchup issues for opponents with their size, shooting range and ability to create. Juzang scored 28 of UCLA’s 51 points in a two-point win over top-seeded Michigan in the Elite Eight.

“He’s a huge piece for us,” Jaquez said of Juzang. “His scoring ability is tremendous, the way he can hit shots off the dribble, off screens, coming off pick-and-rolls. Because of that, that’s why we’re in this position.”

The Zags have several defensive options. Andrew Nembhard, 6-5 and 193 pounds, probably draws the starting assignment on Juzang with Corey Kispert (6-7, 220) on Jaquez (6-6, 220).

Joel Ayayi could be an option and, in certain situations, possibly Jalen Suggs, who has the size and strength to line up against Juzang or Jaquez. Anton Watson (6-8, 225) could be an called on if Gonzaga wants to use a bigger defender.

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