Gonzaga-UCLA Preview: Timme, Jaquez to meet one more time
Mar 23, 2023, 10:26 AM
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Drew Timme of Gonzaga and Jaime Jaquez Jr. of UCLA grew up in different states, yet often came across each other at AAU tournaments, sometimes as roommates.
The two fancy-footworking forwards with fantastic facial hair will be reunited Thursday night in the desert, when the Zags meet the Bruins in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region semifinals.
“We’ve just kind of grown up at the end of our careers together and just to kind of see him from afar, it’s awesome to see,” Timme said Wednesday.
Since those early high school days, Timme and Jaquez have become the focal points for the West’s two powerhouse programs.
The 6-foot-11 Timme has been one of the nation’s best big men during his time in Spokane, leading the Zags to four of their eight straight Sweet 16 appearances, including the 2021 national title game.
Timme’s impeccable footwork, multitude of up-fakes, soft touch and basketball smarts have made him a near-impossible matchup for opposing defenses. He’s Gonzaga’s all-time leading scorer and was named to the Associated Press All-America second team for the third straight season after averaging 21.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
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Timme also has a knack for taking over in big games, like he did last week by scoring 28 points in Gonzaga’s second-round win over TCU.
“It’s great to see him and all the success he’s had there,” Jaquez said. “I credit that to all the hard work that he’s put in. And it was very cool to have full-circle moments like that in life.”
Jaquez has had a similar impact — and game — at UCLA.
The 6-7 swingman has balanced and nimble footwork similar to Timme’s, loves to throw multiple up-fakes in the post and always seems to make the smart play. He’s been a part of UCLA’s three straight Sweet 16 trips, including the 2021 Final Four, and was Pac-12 Player of the Year and a second-team AP All-American after averaging 17.5 points and 8.1 rebounds this season.
“He’s super talented,” Timme said. “He can score at all three levels. He does everything for them, but he’s just a hard, smart guy. He’s always playing his tail off and working.”
Timme and the Zags won the last two meetings, in Las Vegas in 2021 and on Jalen Suggs’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the Final Four the year before.
As for the facial hair, that seems to be a draw.
Jaquez has stuck with the pirate-looking goatee throughout his career, while Timme has brought back the bristly mustache his mom once hated.
BACK AT HOME
For Gonzaga junior guard Julian Strawther, the trip to Las Vegas is a homecoming. He played at Liberty High School in the suburb of Henderson and became a top-100 prospect.
“It’s kind of like a full-circle moment,” said Strawther, who averages 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds. “It’s always a dream playing in March Madness, and not too many people get the luxury of playing in their hometown, especially in a regional final. It’s huge for me, it’s huge for my family and it’s huge for everybody that I know.”