Julian Strawther won it for Gonzaga on a play reminiscent of when Kris Jenkins sunk UNC for the 2016 National Championship.
Left: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images, Right: Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Gonzaga Stole a Page from Villanova's Buzzer-Beating Playbook to Upset UCLA

Gonzaga and UCLA were duking it out Thursday night in the Sweet 16, both vying for a chance to advance in the final seconds. With just over 12 seconds remaining, Gonzaga had possession, and it pulled off something we may have actually seen before.

Gonzaga Wins it without Drew Timme Taking the Final Shot

Julian Strawther #0 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after scoring a three-point basket against the UCLA Bruins during the second half in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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Down by one, Gonzaga's Julian Strawther inbounded the ball to Hunter Sallis. Sallis brought the ball up past half court, made a move as if he was going to drive to the hoop, then flipped the ball back to Strawther. This was the basketball equivalent of a flea-flicker. Strawther, with his feet still touching the center court logo, then lofted a perfect three and drained it. This would ultimately be the dagger in a night that was otherwise owned by Drew Timme. Timme had put on a show under the Vegas lights with 36 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. He absolutely carried the Bulldogs. But it was Strawther — who had a respectable 16 points, 10 rebounds and one assist — who actually closed the book on the night.

Haven't We Seen This Before?

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But many noticed something familiar about this play. In the NCAA Tournament championship game in 2016, Villanova was tied with the University of North Carolina with 4.7 seconds to go. Kris Jenkins inbounded to Ryan Arcidiacono, who quickly dribbled up the left side of the court, cut across the top of the 3-point line, then flipped the ball back to Jenkins. Jenkins got the shot off with 0.7 seconds to go and drained the buzzer-beater.

Think about it — if you have someone who can make that shot, it's the perfect play in this scenario. You're able to build a little momentum from the backcourt, make a move toward the basket that puts the defense on its heels, and then catch them off guard by flipping the ball back to a wide-open shooter for the win.

Obviously, it needs to be executed well, but that was a great play to be drawn up by Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. Now they'll obviously be looking to continue that momentum — which won't be easy, as they'll need to get through UConn to book a trip to the Final Four in Houston.

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