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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga, UCLA discussing potential rematch after thrilling NCAA Tournament semifinal

UPDATED: Tue., May 4, 2021

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs hits the winning 3-pointer over UCLA’s David Singleton to lift the Zags to a 93-90 overtime win in the Final Four in March  (Associated Press)
Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs hits the winning 3-pointer over UCLA’s David Singleton to lift the Zags to a 93-90 overtime win in the Final Four in March (Associated Press)

How about a Gonzaga-UCLA encore?

The teams staged one of the best games in NCAA Tournament history, ending with Jalen Suggs connecting on a 40-footer at the buzzer to give the Zags a 93-90 overtime win last month.

“The scoop is Mark (Few, Gonzaga coach) and I are trying to figure out a way to have a rematch,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin told Andy Katz on the March Madness 365 podcast. “Obviously, we think it could be the most watched regular-season game if we had that (game) right away.

“The problem is you have so many games set already. We’re trying to see if we can move stuff around to make it happen.”

Most of the way-too-early Top 25s have Gonzaga and UCLA in the top five. ESPN has Gonzaga No. 1 and UCLA No. 3. CBS Sports’ Top 25 and 1 has UCLA at No. 1 and Gonzaga at No. 2.

The Zags lose Suggs, Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi, but they’ve added Chet Holmgren, the No. 1 recruit in the 2021 class, five-star guard Hunter Sallis and Iowa State transfer Rasir Bolton.

UCLA is expected to return most of its top players, including Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Cody Riley and David Singleton. The Bruins added Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson and a pair of talented recruits in Peyton Watson and Will McClendon. The Zags recruited Watson, who is No. 8 in 247sports composite rankings.

UCLA forward Johnny Juzang has declared for the NBA draft but didn’t hire an agent. Cronin said he probably won’t know Juzang’s status for next season until July.

Gonzaga second-team All-American forward Drew Timme hasn’t announced if he will submit his name for the draft.

Juzang scored 29 points and Timme had 25 in Gonzaga’s overtime win in Indianapolis.

“The sting of losing you never get over. I don’t get over regular-season losses,” Cronin said. “The appreciation for how well we played and obviously when you look at Gonzaga’s stats, for two teams to be that efficient in a game under the brightest lights and on the biggest stage, it was really good for our sport.

“It’s become such a football-dominated sports society. Trying to get the eyes of the basketball world on to college basketball, I think it was good for our game.”

The Zags’ nonconference schedule next season is expected to include Duke (in Las Vegas), Texas (in Austin), Texas Tech (in Phoenix) and home games against Washington and Arizona. Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, Providence and Louisville are in the Empire Classic on Nov. 18-19 at Madison Square Garden.

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