Johnny Juzang poured in 27 points in his second big game of the NCAA Tournament, Jules Bernard provided a big second-half lift, and No. 11 seed UCLA beat sixth-seeded BYU 73-62 on Saturday night to advance in the East Region.
Bernard finished with 16 points and Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 13 for the Bruins (19-9), who survived a First Four scare from Michigan State and now will play third-seeded Texas or No. 14 seed Abilene Christian for a spot in the Sweeet 16.
It was the first win for UCLA in regulation since handling Utah on Feb. 25.
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Alex Barcello led the Cougars (20-7) with 20 points, most of them coming as Mark Pope’s team tried to rally from a 38-27 halftime deficit. Brandon Averette added 15 points and Matt Haarms finished with 11 points and 10 boards as BYU — which fell to Gonzaga in the Mountain West finals — suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in 60 games.
The Bruins backed into the NCAA Tournament with four straight losses of their own, including a shocker to Oregon State in the Pac-12 tourney. And it looked as if their season would end with a whimper in the First Four against the Spartans before the plucky bunch of Bruins rallied to win in overtime.
They kept the momentum going Saturday night.
Juzang, who had tweaked his ankle late against the Spartans, followed up his 23-point performance in West Lafayette by going 8 of 11 from the floor and scoring 19 first-half points. Jaquez and Bernard also built on their big games from Thursday night. At one point, the trio helped UCLA hit field goals on seven straight trips down floor.
That sent UCLA into halftime with a 38-27 lead over the shell-shocked Cougars.
Barcello tried to shake them out of their malaise.
One of the nation’s top 3-point shooters hit one early in the second half. Then, Barcello found space inside the Bruins’ man-to-man defense for a couple easy jumpers. It was all part of a 10-0 run that made it 43-39 with 14 minutes to go.
That’s when Juzang got some help from the rest of his team.
Bernard answered with a jumper and a 3-pointer minutes apart, Jaquez scored on a nifty put-back and David Singleton scored his only two buckets of the game. The Bruins pushed the lead back out to 56-45 with less than 10 minutes to go, then spent the rest of the game answering every salvo from BYU with one of their own.
UCLA committed only four turnovers, two in each half, allowing coach Mick Cronin’s team to play the plodding style it prefers. That kept the Cougars from getting into transition, and they were unable to score effectively out of half-court sets.
BYU regularly goes 10 deep and had outscored opponents in 23 of 26 games off the bench. But it got little help Saturday night, when the Cougars’ depth should have come in handy against a team that had gone to overtime just two days earlier.
The Bruins will play the Longhorns or the Wildcats for a spot in the Sweet 16.