No. 1 Gonzaga turns standoff with No. 2 UCLA into 83-63 defeat
Las vigas – Andrew Nimbard scored 24, freshman Chet Holmgren showed his unique skill set and second-seeded Gonzaga beat UCLA 83-63 Tuesday night to win the Empire Classic title.
The Zags (6-0) played like the stars of Vegas, showing a huge gap between the current #1 and #2 with a dazzling display at both ends. The Gonzaga shell shocked UCLA (5-1) with a massive early raid and never flinched to beat the second best 5 team this season.
Holmgren stole the show as an occasional soloist, hitting shots, pounces on dives and astonishing the crowd with his agility. The 7-foot-1, 195-pound freshman earned a well-deserved applause early in the second half, when he parried a Miles Johnson shot and went from end to end—dribbling behind his back to boot—for powerful trophies with his hands.
Holmgren finished with 15 points, six rebounds and four cracked shots. Drew Timmy was equally effective on the inside, scoring 18 points.
Try Jaime Jaquez Jr. To keep the Bruins at it, he finished with 19 points, but had to work for everything he got.
Bright strip lights shined on college hoops all week, with No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Duke, No. 12 Houston, Arizona, Oregon and Wisconsin appearing on the canopy.
The highest billing went to the first meeting of #1 versus #2 for teams from the Pacific Time zone.
The Zags and Bruins played all-time this past April in Indianapolis, an epic Final Four match that Gonzaga won over Jalen Suggs’ three-point beater.
Gonzaga lost Suggs and a few others, but coach Mark Vue also filled in the gaps in the roster with transfers and a talented student, led by Holmgren. Zagiz looked just as good, winning her first six games averaging 31.3 points.
It’s all back from UCLA, even though the big guy Cody Riley has been out since injuring his knee in the season opener. The Bruins did not look well against Bellarmine on Monday, leading coach Mick Cronin to say his team was not ready to face Gonzaga after the 75-62 win.
He was right.
Gonzaga was free-flowing at his best in attack, picking out the Bruins with clear cuts and passes. The Zags made eight of their first nine shots and used 19-2 to lead 29-8. Even after the pace slowed, Gonzaga still had a 45-25 lead in the first half.
The zags caused more problems with their fast hands and feet, as they hit passes and shots to create transitional opportunities.
UCLA took many hard shots and missed most of the open shots they got, going 11-for-41 off the field in the first half.
Even when the Bruins began to somewhat loosen Gonzaga’s defense in the second half, they couldn’t stop the Zags.
Holmgren capped the crush by hitting 3 and waving to the crowd as he ran back.
The Big Picture
Cronin nailed it when he said his team wasn’t ready for Gonzaga. Bruins got on steam.
All of those new pieces seem to fit in nicely with the old pieces in Gonzaga, especially Holmgren.
UCLA plays at UNLV on Saturday.
Gonzaga plays the No. 5 Duke in Las Vegas on Friday.
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