March 30 (UPI) — The No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga Bulldogs remained undefeated and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with a dominant 85-66 win over USC on Tuesday night in Indianapolis.
The top-seeded Bulldogs (30-0) will be the third team to enter the Final Four with an undefeated record since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The last team to go undefeated in a season was Indiana in 1976.
The Zags, who last reached the Final Four in 2017, will face No. 11 seed UCLA in the national semifinals Saturday.
Drew Timme led the Bulldogs with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Jared Suggs finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and All-American forward Corey Kispert recorded 18 points and eight boards.
“We just tried to stay moving,” Suggs said about attacking the Trojans’ zone defense. “We didn’t let the ball get too sticky. We kept moving, flashing into the high post. It was a lot for them to deal with — good cuts off the baseline, vertical cuts off the wings.”
Isaiah Mobley had a team-best 19 points and seven rebounds for the sixth-seeded Trojans (25-8), who shot 38.7% from the field and 26.7% from 3-point range. His brother, Evan Mobley, notched 17 points, five rebounds and three assists.
USC guard Drew Peterson tallied 13 points and six rebounds, and Tahj Eaddy added 11 points.
The game was halted early in the first half when referee Bert Smith collapsed on the floor and was transported to the locker room on a stretcher.
On the TBS broadcast, rules analyst Gene Steratore said Smith was experiencing lightheadedness and was being tended to in the locker room. Backup official Tony Henderson replaced Smith, but there was no tough work for Henderson in the blowout.
Gonzaga grabbed a 49-30 lead at halftime and didn’t allow USC to get closer than 16 points in the second half.
“This is a really, really big deal,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said of his program’s return to the Final Four. “And Zags know how to celebrate, OK?”
Also Monday, the UCLA Bruins became the last team to reach this year’s Final Four with their 51-49 win over the top-seeded Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday night.
It is the Bruins’ first trip to the Final Four since 2008. UCLA also becomes only the fifth No. 11 seed to reach the national semifinals, joining LSU (1986), George Mason (2006), VCU (2011) and Loyola Chicago (2018).
Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang led the Bruins (22-9) with 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Sophomore guard Tyger Campbell added 11 points.
Hunter Dickinson had a team-best 11 points for Michigan (23-5), which shot just 39.2% from the field and 27.3% from 3-point range. Brandon Johns Jr. and Eli Brooks each scored eight points.