Byron Wesley is Gonzaga’s transfer from USC. He spent three years as a Trojan, where his teams won only 31 games, then got his degree last summer and transferred to GU, hoping to be part of March Madness. He went 1-6 against UCLA while at USC.
HOUSTON — Friday night, Byron Wesley will play UCLA again, for the absolutely, positively last time.
“I don’t think it could have been scripted any better,” he said.
Wesley is Gonzaga’s transfer from USC. He spent three years as a Trojan, where his teams won only 31 games, then got his degree last summer and transferred to GU, hoping to be part of March Madness.
When he arrived in Spokane, he realized the Zags had UCLA on their schedule in 2014-15, and they responded with an 87-74 win in December.
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Regarding the Bruins, two more odd things happened: They were a surprise inclusion in the tournament on Selection Sunday, and they won two games — pitting them against Gonzaga once again.
“It’s going to be a blast,” said Wesley. “I’ve lost a lot of games to UCLA, so I’m always looking to get revenge for that. (But) it’s more about the team and playing our style.”
As Wesley noted, the Trojans’ success was meager in the series during his time there. He went 1-6, and in the first five, his contribution was sporadic.
But in the last two, both defeats, he combined for 48 points and 17 rebounds. And in the Zags’ visit to L.A. three months ago, he had 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting with nine rebounds.
We meet again
After playing just two times in history before this season, the Zags and Bruins will have collided three times within 12 months.
The December meeting at Pauley Pavilion was the first of a home-and-home series with Gonzaga, with the rematch scheduled at the McCarthey Athletic Center early next season.
“I’m one of the crazy ones,” said UCLA coach Steve Alford, asked about his willingness to do a home-and-home with the Zags. “Something we wanted to do was upgrade our nonconference schedule.”
Said Jerry Krause, who has handled scheduling as Gonzaga’s co-director of basketball operations: “It only took five years. I wore ’em down.”
Gonzaga has a 2-1 edge in the series, the only blemish the galling Sweet 16 loss to UCLA in 2006. In GU coach Mark Few’s first year, Gonzaga won at Pauley, 59-43, before the second Gonzaga victory this season.
Coach K vs. Coach K
When Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak sat down at the podium Thursday, he introduced himself before taking questions. Then he was asked why he didn’t just say Coach K, as his players refer to him.
“Could be confusing in this situation,” he said.
Yes, it could with this NCAA Sweet 16 matchup.
Krystkowiak’s fifth-seeded Utes (26-8) play the more well-known Coach K, four-time national champion Mike Krzyzewski, and top-seeded Duke (31-4) in the other South Regional semi.
This is Duke’s 22nd Sweet 16 appearance under Krzyzewski, the only men’s Division I coach with more than 1,000 victories. Krystkowiak has 110 career wins, 68 in four seasons at Utah, and is in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 10 years.
• UCLA center Tony Parker, on Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos: “You have to respect his ability to run the show. He’s like a baby Steve Nash.”
• All five UCLA starters average double figures, the only team left in the tournament to do so. That also reflects a lack of depth, however, as the Bruin bench averages only 8.8 points, a number personally topped by Zag big man off the bench, Domas Sabonis (9.7).