INDIANAPOLIS — UCLA is immediately one of many hottest groups within the NCAA Event after backing into it with 4 straight losses.
Johnny Juzang is immediately certainly one of its hottest gamers, too.
After serving to the No. 11 seed Bruins rally previous Michigan State within the First 4, Juzang poured in 27 factors towards sixth-seeded BYU on Saturday night time, carrying his group to a 73-62 victory and the second spherical of the East Area.
“That is what we stay for. That is the peak of faculty basketball,” Juzang stated, “and taking part in for the Bruins — I am from Los Angeles. Taking part in with a number of guys I’ve recognized, we’re all brothers right here. So placing on this jersey with my brothers, popping out, taking part in for the house group — I am simply attempting to make everyone on the group proud.”
Juzang did not do it alone.
Jules Bernard scored 16 factors, most of them as BYU tried to rally within the second half, and Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 13 because the Bruins superior to play No. 14 seed Abilene Christian — which upset third-seeded Texas about half-hour after UCLA had wrapped up its personal win — on Monday night time for a spot within the Candy 16.
“I owe (assistant coach) Darren Savino lunch. He is scouting Abilene Christian and he advised me they might win,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin stated. “Abilene Christian is admittedly, actually good. That is all I can say.”
Nonetheless, the Bruins must be favored in a sport for the primary time in fairly some time.
“Look,” Cronin stated, “we had some powerful instances late within the yr, however taking part in good groups, it could possibly both kill you or it makes you higher. You are discovering out that the Pac-12 not being ranked all yr was an absolute joke.”
Alex Barcello led the Cougars (20-7) with 20 factors. Brandon Averette added 15 factors and Matt Haarms completed with 11 factors and 10 boards as BYU — which fell to Gonzaga for the third time this season within the Mountain West finals — suffered back-to-back defeats for the primary time in 60 video games.
“The sport teaches you on a regular basis how you have to get higher. There’s plenty of issues we will take from this sport to get higher,” BYU coach Mark Pope stated. “However I am not there proper now. It is a laborious locker room proper now.”
UCLA’s late-season swoon compelled it into an unenviable First 4 sport towards Michigan State, and it appeared as if a season that started with promise would finish there with a whimper. As an alternative, the Bruins leaned on Juzang to rally them to a win in time beyond regulation, and so they carried that confidence and momentum into Saturday night time.
Juzang, who had tweaked his ankle late towards the Spartans, adopted up his 23-point efficiency in West Lafayette by going 8 of 11 from the ground and scoring 19 first-half factors. Bernard and Jaquez additionally constructed on their huge video games from Thursday night time, at one level the trio serving to UCLA hit discipline targets on seven consecutive journeys down the ground.
That despatched UCLA into halftime with a 38-27 lead over the shell-shocked Cougars.
Barcello tried to shake them out of their malaise.
One of many nation’s high 3-point shooters hit one early within the second half. Then, Barcello discovered area contained in the Bruins’ man-to-man protection for a pair simple jumpers. It was all a part of a 10-0 run that made it 43-39 with 14 minutes to go.
“They stored preventing. They stored attempting to chip away,” Pope stated. “That is this locker room. It is what they have been all yr.”
It wasn’t sufficient, although. Not when Juzang began getting some assist from his group.
Bernard answered BYU’s cost with a jumper and a 3-pointer minutes aside, Jaquez scored on a nifty put-back and David Singleton scored his solely two buckets of the sport. The Bruins shortly pushed the lead again out to 56-45 with lower than 10 minutes to go, then spent the remainder of the sport answering each salvo from the Cougars with certainly one of their very own.
“They brought on us all types of issues. They performed terrific,” Pope stated. “UCLA may be so meticulous and demonstrative with their tempo of play, so it makes it laborious to claw again in. And you understand, it is a sport. It is March. It occurs.”
UCLA dedicated solely 4 turnovers, two in every half, permitting Cronin’s group to play the plodding fashion it prefers. That stored the Cougars from stepping into transition, and so they have been unable to attain successfully out of half-court units.
BYU commonly goes 10 deep and had outscored opponents in 23 of 26 video games off the bench. But it surely bought little assist Saturday night time, when the Cougars’ depth ought to have come in useful towards a group that had gone to OT two days earlier.
The Bruins will play the upstart Wildcats on Monday night time of their third sport in 5 days.
Extra AP faculty basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and up to date bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket
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