Chet Holmgren, Andrew Nembhard Dominant as No. 1 Gonzaga Crush No. 2 UCLA

Doric SamNovember 24, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 23: Gonzaga forward Chet Holmgren (34) flexes after a basket during the Empire Classic tournament college basketball game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the UCLA Bruins on November 23, 2021, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

No. 1 Gonzaga improved to 6-0 with a 83-63 win over No. 2 UCLA on Tuesday. Andrew Nembhard led the way with 24 points as the Bulldogs won their 32nd straight regular season game.

Drew Timme added 18 points and eight rebounds and freshman sensation Chet Holmgren had 15 points, six rebounds and four blocks.

WCC Basketball @WCChoops

Get to know the name... <a href="https://twitter.com/ChetHolmgren?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ChetHolmgren</a>. <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@espn</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ZagMBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ZagMBB</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCChoops?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WCChoops</a> <a href="https://t.co/cnqGMBzoGa">pic.twitter.com/cnqGMBzoGa</a>

The game was a rematch of the Final Four overtime thriller between the Bulldogs and Bruins in the 2021 NCAA tournament, which Gonzaga won to earn its second national championship berth in program history.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 19 points and six rebounds to lead UCLA, which fell to 5-1.

The game also marked the return of legendary college basketball broadcaster Dick Vitale, who was calling his first game of the season after being diagnosed with cancer in October. The 82-year-old was understandably emotional in his return.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Dick Vitale was diagnosed with lymphoma last month and took a break for treatment<br><br>Tonight, the 82-year-old made his return to call Gonzaga vs. UCLA 🙏<a href="https://t.co/eXzv1DhpiI">pic.twitter.com/eXzv1DhpiI</a>

Vitale was gifted with Gonzaga and UCLA jerseys that said "Dickie V" and "Never Give Up" on the back.

Notable Player Stats

G Andrew Nembhard, Gonzaga: 24 points, 6 assists

F Drew Timme, Gonzaga: 18 points, 8 rebounds

F Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks

G Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA: 19 points, 6 rebounds

G Johnny Juzang, UCLA: 11 points

Gonzaga's High-Octane Offense Overpowers UCLA

The Bulldogs are known for playing at an incredibly high pace, and Tuesday's game was no different. Gonzaga established the tempo early on, and once the offense got rolling it was hard for the Bruins to keep up.

UCLA trailed 10-6, but the Bulldogs began pushing the ball and went on a 23-4 run to take a 33-10 lead. Gonzaga's offense was like a freight train going downhill, attacking the paint and kicking the ball out for open three-pointers.

Tarek Fattal @Tarek_Fattal

Andrew Nembhard with two consecutive coast-to-coast layups, zooming right by UCLA defenders. It's getting ugly already. Gonzaga is up 33-10 on UCLA with 8:37 to play in the opening half.

Nembhard did a good job as the team's floor general and made the right decisions. The senior point guard knew when to facilitate and when to attack.

WCC Basketball @WCChoops

We think <a href="https://twitter.com/AndrewNembhard?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AndrewNembhard</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/ZagMBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ZagMBB</a> looked pretty good in the first half. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCChoops?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WCChoops</a> <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ESPN</a> <a href="https://t.co/aPMpH3BHC0">pic.twitter.com/aPMpH3BHC0</a>

WCC Basketball @WCChoops

1️⃣ has 20 more points than 2️⃣.<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@espn</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ZagMBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ZagMBB</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCChoops?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WCChoops</a> <a href="https://t.co/KjfjxKv22b">pic.twitter.com/KjfjxKv22b</a>

The Bulldogs went into halftime leading 45-25. The efficient style of play helped them shoot 15-of-26 (57.7 percent) from the field and 6-of-12 from three-point range.

The pace slowed down a bit in the second half, but it didn't hurt Gonzaga's efficiency. The Bulldogs still shot at a high clip, converting on 54.2 percent of their shots.

Gonzaga looks even stronger than last year's team that advanced to the national title game. If the Bulldogs can keep imposing their will on offense, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them back in the championship game in 2022.

UCLA Fails to Recover from Poor Shot Selection

The Bruins fell into the trap of trying to play as fast as the Bulldogs, and that resulted in some terrible decision-making.

UCLA tried to get shots up without setting up its offense. With Holmgren patrolling the paint, Gonzaga's defense allowed the Bruins to get outside shots, but they failed to convert. They made just one of their nine three-point attempts in the first half and shot 11-of-41 (26.8 percent) overall.

Tarek Fattal @Tarek_Fattal

Chet Holmgren already has three blocks. His length is a factor down low - no question. <br><br>UCLA shooting woes continue, 6 of 30.<br><br>Zags 33, UCLA 14. 5:32, 1H

Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN

UCLA has missed 25 of its first 31 shots. Just can't do anything against this Gonzaga length. Zags are giving them those 3s. They just can't hit them.

The game slowed down in the second half, and UCLA was able to convert at a more efficient rate, shooting 13-of-28 (46.4 percent). But it was too little, too late. Gonzaga matched UCLA with 38 second-half points to secure the 20-point victory.

The Bruins are a better team than what they showed Tuesday night. They ran into an offensive juggernaut and played out of character. If UCLA wants to bounce back, it will have to get back to playing the way it usually does by making better decisions and shooting efficiently.

What's Next?

Gonzaga will be back in action in another ranked matchup Friday against No. 5 Duke in Las Vegas. UCLA will look to bounce back Saturday on the road against UNLV.