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Joel Ayayi injured during first half of Final Four, referee collapses

Referee Bert Smith went down at the same time as Ayayi appeared to take an elbow to the mouth.

Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Joel Ayayi lays on the court after an apparent injury during the first half against the USC Trojans in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Ayayi came back in and finished with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and six rebounds in 29 minutes of action.

UPDATE: Ayayi got hit with an elbow, and he’s back in the game.

Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Joel Ayayi went down and referee Bert Smith is currently being attended to both teams as a stretcher has been wheeled onto the court. The Zags are playing the USC Trojans in the Elite Eight in Indianapolis.

Smith just collapsed to the floor, and has been replaced by the alternate official. We won’t show the video, but he simply passed out while standing in the corner of the court as the lead official in front of the Gonzaga bench.

Smith has been wheeled off the court, and the game has continued. Ayayi appears to be grabbing for his teeth and might have some mouth issues. But he has returned to the game, and the Zags lead 21-8 with just over 12 minutes remaining.

The winner of this game will face the winner of the Michigan vs. UCLA game later this evening.