NCAA

Top-Ranked Gonzaga Routs No. 2 UCLA in Rematch of Epic Final Four Game

The unbeaten Zags built an early lead and handed the Bruins their first loss

Chet Holmgren
USA TODAY

Gonzaga didn't need a 40-foot buzzer-beater against UCLA this time around.

In a rematch of last year's epic Final Four matchup, which ended when Jalen Suggs banked in a deep three in overtime to lift the Zags over the Bruins, Gonzaga quickly ensured there would be no need for late-game heroics. The top-ranked Zags cruised from start to finish during an 83-63 victory over No. 2 UCLA to win the Empire Classic in Las Vegas, proving the early-season gap between the top two teams is a considerable one.

In a matchup of 5-0 teams, it took less than 10 minutes for Gonzaga to establish a 21-point lead on UCLA, taking a 29-8 advantage when Rasir Bolton hit a three with 10:08 remaining in the first half.

The Zags maintained their comfortable lead throughout, going up by as many as 24, which was the largest deficit during the Mick Cronin era at UCLA.

Gonzaga shot 56 percent from the field in the win, while holding UCLA to just 34.8 percent shooting.

The Zags improved to 6-0 on the season, winning their 32nd consecutive regular season win.

Andrew Nembhard had a game-high 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting, adding six assists and five rebounds.

Chet Holmgren, a 7-foot freshman, showed off his diverse skill set at both ends by blocking shots, handling the ball and shooting efficiently from the outside. He finished with 15 points, six rebounds and four blocks.

Drew Timme added 18 points and eight rebounds.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. led UCLA with 19 points. Johnny Juzang, who nearly powered UCLA to an upset victory over the unbeaten Zags in the Final Four, had 11 points.

Much has changed since that instant classic in April. Suggs is one of three Gonzaga starters from that game now in the NBA, having been drafted No. 5 overall by the Orlando Magic. While the Bruins returned intact, the Zags reloaded with a strong recruiting class.

New personnel, same results. The wins continue to pile up for Gonzaga, which is on a mission to avenge its loss to Baylor in last season's National Championship.

The Zags already have defeated two top-five teams in Texas and UCLA. They'll face another on Friday when they play No. 5 Duke.

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