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The Sports Report: Gonzaga routs UCLA

Tyger Campbell of UCLA loses the ball under pressure from Drew Timme, left, and Andrew Nembhard of Gonzaga.
Tyger Campbell of UCLA loses the ball under pressure from Drew Timme, left, and Andrew Nembhard of Gonzaga.
(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Ben Bolch on UCLA basketball: This time it wasn’t the crazy make, it was all the misses.

Jump hooks, baseline jumpers, three-pointers, point-blank layups—nothing was falling for UCLA early in a rematch with Gonzaga from the Final Four that quickly turned into a massive mismatch between the nation’s No. 1 and 2 teams.

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The top-ranked Bulldogs disrupted defensively with their size and the second-ranked Bruins compounded their woes by playing lazy defense. At one point in the first half inside T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday night, UCLA had made three of 19 shots (15.8%). The Bruins trailed by as many as 23 points.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin, who had foreshadowed this sort of thing the previous day by saying his team wasn’t ready for this early season showdown, tried to reverse his team’s fortunes. He changed his lineups. He called three timeouts in the first 11½ minutes.

Nothing worked.

Seven months after a classic national semifinal that ended with Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs pumping his arms atop a courtside table after banking in a 40-footer at the overtime buzzer, there was no late drama during the Bulldogs’ 83-63 runaway victory.

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme was celebrating after the halftime buzzer, raising his arms in triumph on the way off the court with his team holding a 45-25 advantage. UCLA was shooting 26.8% to that point and 11.1% from beyond the arc.

“We took too many shots without making them defend us,” Cronin said. “You’ve got to make them play defense. You can’t beat them if you don’t make them play defense.”

It never got much better, even some spirited play from Jaime Jaquez Jr. (19 points) unable to save the Bruins (5-1) from their early doldrums as they never drew closer than 16 points in the second half. UCLA finished the game shooting 34.8% and 16.7% from long range while allowing Gonzaga (6-0) to shoot 56%.

Cronin was most displeased with his team’s defensive shortcomings, noting the Bulldogs outscored his team 14-0 in fastbreak points in the first half.

“We didn’t offer much in the way of resistance,” Cronin said.

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LAKERS

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: The Lakers were without LeBron James, they had Anthony Davis playing despite dealing with flu-like symptoms and they were getting drubbed to add to their misery.

All James could do was watch all that was unfolding for the Lakers as they got down by 25 in the first half. He was serving a one-game suspension for his role in an alteration with Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart during Sunday night’s game, and missed the game at Madison Square Garden.

The Lakers tied the score in the third quarter behind Russell Westbrook’s sizzling play, but they then went cold in the fourth of an eventual 106-100 defeat to the New York Knicks.

The momentum the Lakers claimed to have built after rallying for a thrilling win in Detroit didn’t last long. The Lakers fell to 1-3 on a five-game trip that concludes Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers.

Westbrook finished with a triple-double with 31 points, 17 in the third. He also had 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

Davis had 20 points and Avery Bradley 15.

CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: The matchup between franchises that have met in postseason’s first round each of the past two years was notable for all the ways it looked so familiar.

After sitting the last three games with a sprained knee and ankle, Dallas star guard Luka Doncic again mugged for Staples Center’s courtside seats after stepback three-pointers and improbable jumpers, once again looking just as comfortable in Los Angeles as he does in Dallas.

Doncic and Clippers reserve Terance Mann added yet another confrontation to their charged history together that dates back two years.

And a matchup that produced seven games of drama in the most recent playoffs generated even more. Clippers star Paul George kept his name in the discussion for NBA most valuable player by sinking a three-pointer from the corner with only a few tenths of a second remaining on the game clock in regulation to force overtime – capping a comeback that had seen the Clippers, who led by 11 in the first half, trail by 10 with only 1 minute, 38 seconds to play.

An arena’s worth of hands went skyward. George, meanwhile, turned to the crowd and slapped hands with anyone within reach before Mann barreled over with a hug. It was George’s first three-pointer of the night.

The Clippers (10-8) couldn’t sustain the momentum, losing 112-104. George scored 26 points and Reggie Jackson added 31 for the Clippers.

Doncic scored 26 for Dallas (10-7), with the Clippers unable to saddle him with more fouls after he drew his fourth only minutes into the second half. Kristaps Porzingis had 31 points.

USC FOOTBALL

Ryan Kartje on the Trojans: With just two games left in its disappointing season, USC will stick with freshman Jaxson Dart at quarterback against BYU.

Dart started for the first time last Saturday in the Trojans’ blowout loss to rival UCLA, and all signs are pointing towards the freshman finishing out the season as the starter.

Kedon Slovis, who was twice named an All-Pac-12 passer, remains sidelined with what coaches have deemed “a lower leg injury.” But interim coach Donte Williams said he didn’t expect that the injury would require the junior to be officially shut down for the season’s final two weeks.

“It’s a muscle injury, so everybody heals a little differently,” Williams said. “So I wish I could give you something better than that and say, ‘Yeah, he’ll back tomorrow.’ But I don’t know that.”

————

USC coaching search heat check: Matt Campbell and Kyle Whittingham gaining steam

Kenan Christon, suspended USC running back, accuses school of unfair treatment

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Cincinnati moved into position to make the College Football Playoff on Tuesday night, climbing a spot to fourth behind Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama.

A team from outside the Power Five conferences has never been selected for the semifinals in the previous seven years of the College Football Playoff.

Heading into the final full weekend of games, one loaded with playoff and conference championship implications, Cincinnati (11-0) seems to have a realistic path to a playoff spot no matter what happens around the Bearcats.

Cincinnati plays at East Carolina on Friday and then meets Houston (10-1), ranked 24th by the committee, in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Dec. 4.

RAMS

Bill Shaikin on the Rams: But what if the Rams should not have come home to Los Angeles? What if the NFL relocation process was a sham? What if the NFL did not follow its own rules, and if team owner Stan Kroenke and the Rams rigged the system?

Those are the allegations made in St. Louis, where the Missouri-born Kroenke is considered less of a visionary and more of a rapacious turncoat.

What appeared to be sour grapes from a scorned city four years ago is turning into a nightmare for Kroenke and the NFL, as a longshot lawsuit heads toward trial in January, just in time to steal headlines from the Super Bowl at Kroenke’s showcase stadium Feb. 13.

After a series of pretrial rulings in favor of St. Louis, Kroenke has turned on some of his fellow NFL owners, and on the league itself. His football palace in L.A. cost $5 billion. He might need to come up with another billion, or more, to rid himself of St. Louis.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1904 — Fullback Sam McAllester is thrown for a touchdown to give Tennessee a 7-0 victory over Alabama. McAllester, wearing a wide leather belt with handles sewn on the side, is repeatedly thrown by two teammates over the line of scrimmage, including the only touchdown of the game.

1927 — The “Golden Egg Trophy,” is presented for the first time at the Egg Bowl played on Thanksgiving Day. Mississippi beats Mississippi State (then Mississippi A&M) 20-12.

1949 — The Syracuse Nationals edge the Anderson Packers 125-123 in five overtimes in the National Basketball league.

1949 — Led by quarterback Joe Paterno, Brown overcomes a 26-7 third-quarter deficit by scoring 34 points in the final 17 minutes to beat Colgate 41-26.

1957 — Cleveland Brown rookie Jim Brown rushes for 232 yards and scores four touchdowns in a 45-31 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

1960 — Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors sets an NBA record with 55 rebounds in a 132-129 loss to the Boston Celtics.

1977 — Miami’s Bob Griese throws for six touchdowns in a 55-14 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Detroit Lions.

1985 — Ron Brown of the Los Angeles Rams returns two kickoffs for touchdowns in a 34-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

1996 — Karrie Webb, capping a sensational rookie year, wins the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship to become the first player in tour history to earn more than $1 million in a season.

2000 — LaDainian Tomlinson caps the fourth-best rushing season with 174 yards and a touchdown in TCU’s 62-7 victory over SMU. Tomlinson, who also won his second straight NCAA rushing title, finishes the season with 2,158 yards.

2002 — Annika Sorenstam completes the best LPGA Tour season in 38 years with a 4-under 68 to win the season-ending ADT Championship, her 11th victory of the year.

2007 — Kevin Smith rushes for 219 yards and a touchdown to surpass 2,000 yards for the season in Central Florida’s 36-20 win over UTEP. Smith is the nation’s leading rushing with 2,164 yards, the fourth highest in Division I-A (Bowl Subdivision) history.

2010 — Boston’s Mark Recchi scores two third-period goals to become the 13th NHL player to reach 1,500 career points and helps the Bruins defeat Florida 3-1.

2011 — In the first NFL game featuring brothers as opposing head coaches, John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens top Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers 16-6.

2013 — Sebastian Vettel wins Formula One’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, matching Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 victories in a year and equaling the nine consecutive wins of Alberto Ascari.

2015 — The defending champion Golden State Warriors set the record for best start in NBA history at 16-0. Stephen Curry has 24 points and nine assists in a 111-77 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers.

2018 — Dwayne Haskins throws five touchdown passes, freshman Chris Olave scores twice and blocks a punt that is returned for a TD and No. 10 Ohio State continues its mastery over No. 4 Michigan with a 62-39 victory.

2018 — Kellen Mond’s 2-point conversion to Kendrick Rogers in the seventh overtime gives Texas A&M 74-72 victory over No. 8 LSU, tying the NCAA record for most overtimes in an FBS game.

2018 — Florida uses a punishing ground attack to end a five-game losing streak to Florida State, defeating the Seminoles 41-14. The Gators send the Seminoles (5-7) their first losing season since 1976, Bobby Bowden’s first season as head coach.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Highlights of the UCLA-Gonzaga game. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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