DENVER — Drew Timme added something new to his twisted, twisted, head fake, and mustachioed repertoire: a three-pointer to help Gonzaga get over the hump and return to the Sweet 16.
The big Gonzaga extended his one-of-a-kind college career by at least one more game, finishing with 28 points and eight rebounds Sunday to help the third-seeded Zags reach an eighth straight Sweet 16 with a comeback win by 84 -81 on TCU.
Timme made his first 3 since December – and just his third of the season – as part of a 13-1 run that helped the Zags (30-5) take a seven-point lead just under nine minutes into from the end after trailing most of the night.
“It was huge – the clock, the two-point lead,” Timme said of the margin before shooting. “I just threw one up there. All you can do is smile and laugh.
After TCU pulled within three late, Timme hit a lane twist shot with a defender draped over him to spark a 4-0 mini-run that put the game out of reach.
Next stop for the 6-foot-10 old man and his social-media-friendly mustache: Las Vegas for the West Region semifinals and a meetup with UCLA on Thursday. It will be a rematch of their Final Four game two years ago when Jalen Suggs cashed one off the halfcourt logo at the buzzer for the win.
Mike Miles Jr. finished with 24 points and four assists in his second straight electric game for the sixth-seeded Horned Frogs (22-13), who were looking to win two games in the same tournament for the first time in program history .
Damion Baugh finished with 15 points for TCU, none more consequential than a not-so-insignificant 3-hit at the buzzer to help the Horned Frogs cover the 4.5-point spread listed on the FanDuel Sportsbook.
Little consolation for TCU, even though for more than 30 minutes the Frogs looked a lot like a top 16 team in the country. They came to the Bulldogs in waves, trying to stop Timme with every big man on the roster.
But while Gonzaga’s big man worked for every one of his 12 field goals, TCU’s big men were all in trouble as the game wound down and Timme took over.
TCU led by as many as 10 in the first half. Rasir Bolton (17 points) led Gonzaga’s first big run. Two three-pointers by him and another by Julian Strawther gave the Bulldogs a 46-45 lead after they missed 12 of their 14 attempts from behind the arc in the first half.
Strawther, a Las Vegas native, will be heading home for his team’s next game. And Timme joined a roster that includes Bill Bradley, Elvin Hayes and Danny Manning as just the seventh player with nine NCAA Tournament games over 20 points.
“I think he will go on to be one of the all-time great college players in football history,” said Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. “And he still he shouldn’t have turned that 3. But that’s what makes him good. He does stuff like that every now and then.
SWEET 16th ANNIVERSARY
Thursday’s matchup with UCLA in Las Vegas will fall on the 16th anniversary of their classic Sweet 16 game, which the Bruins won 73-71. In the final, frantic 40 seconds, UCLA made two steals, scored the final five points, and left Zags star Adam Morrison almost crying on the court.
ONE BIG MAN LESS
With TCU’s big men struggling, one difference may have been the absence of Eddie Lampkin. Lampkin, a key cog in TCU’s frontcourt for much of the year, hit the transfer portal just before the Big 12 tournament.