Southern guard Derick Beltran was bent over at half court at EnergySolutions Arena when Olynyk passed by to give him a great-effort pat.
Gonzaga needed every lifeboat dropped Thursday to survive upstart Southern, 64-58, and avoid becoming the first top-seeded team to lose to a No. 16.
No. 1's record against 16 going into this tournament was 112-0.
Only a few years ago, Gonzaga was the underdog trying to take down one of the tournament giants. Everything has changed.
When Southern charged back from an 11-point deficit to tie the score, 56-56, on Beltran's three-pointer with 3 minutes 46 seconds left, most of the crowd of 12,621 had already filed adoption papers for the Jaguars and penciled mustaches on the dastardly Bulldogs.
"If I wasn't coaching on the other sideline, they would be a tough team not to root for, you know?" Gonzaga Coach Mark Few said.
As darlings, the Jags had replaced the Zags.
Gonzaga entered the game as the No. 1 team in the nation and the top-seeded team in the West Regional. Southern was No. 1 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference after splitting a regular-season series against Alcorn State.
Beltran, a 6-4 senior guard from Riverview, Fla., did everything he could to pull off a stunning victory. He led his team in heart and with 21 points.
"They definitely weren't scared to jump up and meet you at the rim," Gonzaga's Olynyk said. "They're a very athletic team and we kind of just had to fight through that."
The Jaguars also stayed in contention by making 10 of 23 three-point attempts.
In the end, though, losing was losing.
"It's not a good feeling,"' Beltran offered with his head bowed, "because we worked so hard all year long. It just doesn't feel good."
Thursday's game ranks among the closest calls a top-seeded school has faced in its first game.
In the 1989 tournament, East Tennessee State and Princeton came within a point of upsetting Oklahoma and Georgetown.
A year later, No. 16 Murray State took Michigan State to overtime before losing by four, and No. 16 Western Carolina lost to No. 1 Purdue by two.
Gonzaga needed a great second half from Olynyk, who scored 17 of his 21 points after intermission. The Bulldogs also needed two huge three-pointers from their sophomore guards to avoid making the wrong kind of history.