.LAS VEGAS — Gonzaga pulled off a March miracle against UCLA in Sweet 16, winning an epic game that featured a furious rally and two 3-pointers in the final 13 seconds.

The Zags celebrated on the floor, with their families in the stands and in the locker room. Then they turned their attention to a physical Connecticut team playing like it’s capable of winning a national championship.

“It was kind of one of those things like a short memory, because March there’s no time to dwell on the past and try to live in that moment too much,” Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther said the day before Saturday’s meeting at T-Mobile Arena with UConn (TBS, tipoff at 5:49 p.m.) “Tomorrow’s already game day. That’s what we’ve got our eyes set on.”

Strawther, a Las Vegas native who went to Liberty High School in Henderson, hit the decisive shot, a long 3 with 7.2 seconds left, to beat UCLA.

The Zags were in this position two years ago in the NCAA Tournament. It didn’t go well.
Jalen Suggs had one of the most memorable March Madness moments against UCLA in the 2021 Final Four, hitting a running, buzzer-beating 3-pointer from just inside half-court to send Gonzaga to the national championship game.

Two days later, the Zags got manhandled by Baylor in the title game.

Gonzaga stunned the Bruins again Thursday night 79-76. Strawther’s 3 came five seconds after Amari Bailey hit a 3 to put the Bruins up by one.

Just like two years ago, another bruising opponent awaits the Zags in Saturday’s West Region final against UConn.

“I think we just changed our approach and our mindset, so hopefully be a little bit more prepared for the game tomorrow,” Gonzaga’s Anton Watson said.

The Huskies have bullied their way through the bracket, winning their first three games by a combined 62 points.

UConn has heft inside in 6-foot-9, 245-pound Adama Sanogo and potent perimeter scorers in Tristan Newton and Jordan Hawkins.

The Huskies turned what was supposed to be one of the NCAA Tournament’s best games so far into a Sweet 16 blowout, overwhelming Arkansas for an 88-65 win Thursday night.

An easy win, but the Huskies now have to face a team that’s been to the Final Four twice in the previous five tournaments. UConn hasn’t been to the Final Four since winning the 2014 national championship.

“Obviously, they hit the mark across the board — player development, the culture, the winning, Final Fours, putting guys in the NBA,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “They do it with a culture that’s widely respected.”