Timme leads Gonzaga past TCU, setting up compelling Sweet 16 matchup vs. UCLA

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Drew Timme has been one of, if not the – faces of college basketball in recent years. The Gonzaga big man has also been one of the poster boys for how name, image and likeness have brought key players back for another season when they might otherwise have been inclined to turn pro .

So perhaps it was no surprise that the heart and soul of a Gonzaga team that has enjoyed a historic hitting streak during the month of March refused to let his team lose in the second round against No. 6 seed TCU. The Zags’ senior leader helped spark an impressive comeback down the stretch to hold off the Horned Frogs, 84-81, and advance to the Sweet 16 for the eighth straight season.

The 22-year-old veteran, who grew up not far from the Horned Frogs’ campus in Texas, became the seventh player in Division I history to score 20+ points in nine or more Tournament games of NCAA men’s basketball. Timme finished with 28 points Sunday night, while adding eight rebounds, three assists and a handful of key defensive stops.

“They announced it was seven straight Sweet 16s, and I said, ‘We can’t be the team that messes this up,'” Timme told Andy Katz of FOX Sports after the game. “It’s a testament to the coach and the program we have. We have some dogs here. This whole team just fights.”

The Bulldogs trailed by double digits less than 13 minutes into the game, but made a run just before the half, holding TCU to just one field goal in the final four minutes of the first half to get back to to enter. the game.

After trading baskets to open the second half, Timme found himself in the middle of things doing almost everything he could to put the WCC champions on a 13-0 run over three minutes midway through the second party to regain the lead. for good.

Senior Rasir Bolton added 17 points, while fellow point guard Malachi Smith was part of a key second unit and finished with 11 points and five rebounds.

The comeback also spoiled what could have been the cherry on top of an all-time great track and field season in Fort Worth.

Although Jamie Dixon helped guide his alma mater past Arizona State on Friday, the Horned Frogs fell just short of reaching their first Sweet 16 berth for the second year in a row since 1968. L Hypnotoad-inspired private school still recorded a bowl game win and an NCAA Tournament win in the same season for the first time and can hold their heads high after a valiant run to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in January was followed with some success in March Madness two months later.

TCU junior Mike Miles was fantastic trying to pass Timme on the stat sheet, shooting 8-for-13 from the field for 24 points and playing all but one minute in a game his team came up short of a frantic second half. .

Either way, the result delivers a matchup that was eagerly awaited as soon as the brackets were released as the Zags advanced to face an old foe in Las Vegas at No. 2 UCLA.

The two iconic West Coast men’s basketball programs have met seven times before, sharing an unforgettable history on the hard court when the schedule flipped in March.

Back in the so-called 2021 bubble tournament in Indianapolis, the two teams starred in an epic back-and-forth Final Four battle. Behind Johnny Juzang’s 29 points, the 11th-seeded Bruins appeared to have punched their ticket to the title game in the dying embers of overtime. Then, as the final seconds ticked away, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs hit a half-court shot that landed to send the small Pacific Northwest Jesuit program to the national championship game.

UCLA has only two wins in the series: a 71-66 regular-season victory in Spokane in 2015 and a memorable 17-point victory in the Sweet 16 in 2006. That game left its mark on the basketball world, with captured cameras. Gonzaga star and player of the year Adam Morrison cries right after the 3-point line amid heartbreak.

Although they will renew the rivalry 17 years to the day next Thursday, the last time the two teams met on the court was at T-Mobile Arena (home of the West Regional) in November of last season, which it ended with an 83-63 win for Gonzaga. Timme recorded 18 points against several faces he will see in Sin City, including Jaime Jaquez Jr., Tyger Campbell, David Singleton and Kenneth Nwuba.

“They’re a good team,” Timme said of his next opponent, noting that he was holding off on giving a full scouting report until he could see the film.

Morrison will also be there, nearly two decades later, in his role as the team’s radio analyst. This time, though, Morrison hopes the most famous mustache in the Pacific Northwest today can do what he couldn’t for the Bruins in 2006.

March Madness is always about those moments on the big stage that seem to last forever, so maybe it’s up to Gonzaga to put the face of the program back in position to have another one of those moments.

Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has been covering college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets including NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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