UCLA is in the Elite Eight of the Men’s Basketball Tournament for the first time since 2008 after beating Alabama in a thrilling Sweet 16 matchup on Sunday night, 88-78.
Jaime Jacquez Jr. and Jules Bernard led the Bruins with 17 points each. Johnny Juzang and Tyger Campbell each had 13 points in the game. David Singleton had 15 points off the bench. Jacquez added eight points, three assists and three steals in the game.
The No. 2-seeded Crimson Tide didn’t go down without some fight. Down three points with time winding down, Alabama big man Alex Reese found himself with the basketball and tied the game with a clutch three-point basket as time expired in regulation.
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But it was the relentless shooting from No. 11 UCLA that put the Bruins over the top in the extra period.
Alabama missed a handful of three-pointers in the overtime period, which hurt them down the stretch. Alabama was also 11-for-25 from the free-throw line.
Jahvon Quinerly led Alabama with 20 points. John Petty Jr. had 16 points.
UCLA nearly shot itself in the foot in the final seconds of the second half. The Bruins had ample opportunity to foul before the three was launched by Reese but elected not to. The decision drew some scrutiny from the floor generals on Twitter.
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The Bruins are vying for a spot in the Final Four. The team last made the Final Four in 2008, losing to Memphis in that game 78-63. That UCLA Bruins team included future NBA stars Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
The Bruins could have made the tournament last year after a 19-12 record, but the postseason was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bruins hadn’t made the tournament since 2017 when Steve Alford led the team to a 31-5 record.
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UCLA came into the tournament as a First Four team. They will be the second team in history to make the Elite Eight from that round. The first team was VCU and they made the Final Four in 2011.
UCLA will play Michigan in the Elite Eight regional final.