UCLA vs Gonzaga
When: 7:15 PM ET, Friday, March 27, 2015
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Gonzaga dominated UCLA when the teams met 3 1/2 months ago, but there is much more at stake Friday when the West Coast powerhouses meet in Houston in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs led by double digits for most of the second half and finished at 58.5 percent shooting (9-of-19 from the arc) en route to an 87-74 road win on Dec. 13. "They've been there, done that," Bruins coach Steve Alford told reporters that night. "We've got a lot of guys going through it for the first time. (Gonzaga's players) don't panic. They play with great poise. Offensively, they're really hard to guard because they have so many guys who can make 3s, yet people will tell you their strength is on the inside."
The second-seeded Bulldogs have lost only twice all season - a pair of three-point defeats - and their earlier win over the Bruins marked one of 29 times this season that Gonzaga has scored at least 70 points. The Bulldogs rolled past Iowa, 87-68, in the round of 32 behind standout forward Kyle Wiltjer, who shot 10-of-12 from the field and 4-of-6 from long range en route to 24 points. No. 11 seed UCLA posted a 17-point triumph against UAB its last time out behind 28 points and 12 rebounds from Tony Parker.TV:
7:15 p.m. ET, CBSABOUT UCLA (22-13):
The Bruins have won six of their last seven games with the only defeat in that stretch coming in a tight setback against Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. Their first two wins in the Big Dance have proven that UCLA can win with defense (60-59 versus SMU) and with offense (92-75 against UAB), while Bryce Alford has been a constant in both games, averaging 24.5 points on 12-of-16 3-point shooting. “People are going to say whatever they want,” said Alford, who averages 15.6 points, second on the team to Norman Powell (16.4). “But when you look back on it, we’ve been in the Sweet 16 last year, and we’re there again this year. That doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to win big games to do that.”ABOUT GONZAGA (34-2):
The Bulldogs are the nation's best shooting team (52.4 percent) and also rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring (79.1, 10th) and assists (16.5, sixth). “It’s without a doubt the best offensive team I’ve ever been associated with,” said coach Mark Few, whose team is led in scoring by Wiltjer (17.1 points) and Kevin Pangos (11.8). “The firepower, the versatility, the ability to share the ball.” Wiltjer is 12-of-17 from 3-point range in his last four games, while Pangos is 12-of-22 from the arc during that span. TIP-INS
1. The winner of this game will face either No. 1 Duke or fifth-seeded Utah in the South Regional finals. Gonzaga's only trip to the Elite 8 came in 1999, while UCLA went to three straight Final Fours from 2006-08 but has not reached the Elite 8 since.
2. Both teams rank in the top 30 nationally in rebounding. UCLA is led by Kevon Looney (9.2 rebounds), while fellow freshman Domantas Sabonis (7.1) paces Gonzaga.
3. Wiltjer scored 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the first meeting while USC transfer Byron Wesley was 7-of-8 en route to 20 points for the Bulldogs.PREDICTION:
Gonzaga 77, UCLA 69
Stats and Records