March Madness, this was not.
In last year's Final Four, the Bruins and Bulldogs went back and forth, neither team stringing together a run better than 6-0 or going up by double figures throughout the entire high-stakes matchup.
In this November rematch, things were as one-sided as they could get.
No. 1 Gonzaga (6-0) had runs of 8-0, 6-0 and 13-0 in the first 10 minutes alone, going on to defeat No. 2 UCLA men's basketball (5-1) 83-63 Tuesday night in the Empire Classic in Las Vegas. With the Bulldogs taking a 33-10 lead in the opening half, the Bruins could not overcome the early hole and ended up losing their first game of the season in the process.
"You take your show on the road, you better take some toughness and defense," said coach Mick Cronin.
UCLA has now lost four of its last five head-to-head matchups with Gonzaga since knocking them out of the 2006 Sweet 16.
The Bulldogs opened the night 13-of-18 from the field, and in that same span, the Bruins went 4-of-24. It took UCLA over seven minutes of game time to get its first defensive rebounds, not because it was getting outworked on the boards or anything, but just because Gonzaga hit 8 of its first 9 field goals.
The opening 12 minutes were so lopsided in the Bulldogs favor that the Bruins' recovery in the final eight minutes of the first half hardly gave them any momentum or shot at making a comeback in the second half.
UCLA outscored Gonzaga 15-12 and outshot them 41.2% to 25% in that span, and the Bruins still went into halftime down 45-25.
Guard Johnny Juzang and guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. are UCLA's leading scorers so far this season and poured it in last March as well. The duo added 48 points on 60% shooting in the Final Four against Gonzaga, a performance they came far from replicating early on Tuesday.
Juzang and Jaquez led the Bruins with seven points apiece at the break while shooting a combined 6-of-18 in the first half. With its two top scorers struggling to put the ball in the basket, UCLA couldn't get its supporting cast going either, as the other seven rotation players went 5-of-23.
A slight advantage in the end of the first half was interrupted by halftime, and the Gonzaga took over again when the second half got underway.
And the Bulldogs rubbed it in a bit too.
True freshman center Chet Holmgren, last year's No. 1 recruit in the country, blocked center Myles Johnson's layup attempt against the backboard, got the rebound, took the ball down the court, dribbled behind his back and flew through the lane with a two-handed slam to put Gonzaga up by 24.
"I don't even need to see his stats," Cronin said. "He was clearly the best player on the floor tonight, hands down. I don't think anybody's gonna disagree with that, not if you were at the game."
One minute later, after UCLA made it a 20-point game again, point guard Andrew Nembhard faced up Juzang, faked the drive and caught the Bruin stumbling backwards as he fell to the floor. Having just broke Juzang's ankles with a behind-the-back dribble of his own, Nembhard took his time on a wide-open 3-point attempt and watched it fall.
Jaquez had his ankles broken by Nembhard a few minutes later, when the point guard stopped on a dime on the block and hit a short floater while Jaquez looked on from the ground.
A 9-2 run by UCLA, capped off by a Jaquez 3-pointer, made it a 16-point game with 14 minutes to play. The comeback effort was short-lived, however, as guard Julian Strawther answered Jaquez's long ball with a 3 of his own on the very next possession.
The Bruins didn't get back within fewer than 18 points again until the 2:16 mark, and even that got immediately wiped out by a Holmgren 3-pointer. Outscoring the Bulldogs by three points across the final 28 minutes didn't turn out to mean much, as the game was apparently decided in the opening moments without much of a swing thereafter.
The Bulldogs managed to outscored the Bruins on the fast break 18-5 despite losing the turnover battle 13-8, and Cronin said he was not pleased with the way his team responded to those scenarios.
"They weren't the Lakers – it wasn't Kareem to Magic to Byron to Worthy for the dunk," Cronin said. "It was the guy with the ball dribbled all the way the length of the court and laid it in, so we didn't offer much in the way of resistance."
Gonzaga also hit nine 3-pointers compared to UCLA's two. That 21-point advantage earned from outside the arc turned out to be the difference, as the Bruins' two triples were their fewest since Nov. 27, 2019, versus Michigan State at the Maui Invitational.
Jaquez added some late points to lead UCLA with 19, while Juzang and Campbell each had 11. Campbell had one assist – the only other time he's done that in his collegiate career was that same game two years ago to the week against the Spartans.
No players were made available to the media postgame.
"I'm the coach, we got beat and it's my job to answer for it," Cronin said. "Right now, they need to be talking to each other to make a decision on what we're gonna do."
UCLA's next game will also be in Vegas, as it is set to tip off against UNLV at 2 p.m. on Saturday.