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UCLA Storms Back Versus Michigan State in NCAA First Four

Mar 18, 2021
UCLA celebrates at the buzzer (photo by NCAA, via Getty Images)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored a career-high 27 points and Johnny Juzang added 23 points as the No. 11-seeded UCLA men's basketball team recorded a thrilling 86-80 comeback victory in overtime against No. 11-seeded Michigan State on Thursday night in a "First Four" contest of the NCAA Tournament at Mackey Arena.
 
The Bruins (18-9) trailed by 11 points at halftime, but stormed back late to force overtime before dominating the extra session to take the win.
 
UCLA closed the game on a 14-3 run, notching the program's first overtime win in the NCAA Tournament since taking down top-seeded Cincinnati in double-OT by a score of 105-101 on Mar. 17, 2002. It was the Bruins' first win in any NCAA Tournament game since Mar. 19, 2017, also against Cincinnati.
 
Four separate Bruins finished in double figures on Thursday, led by Jaquez Jr.'s career-best night. Junior guard Jules Bernard (11 points, eight rebounds) and redshirt junior forward Cody Riley (11 points, six rebounds) also had solid two-way performances.
 
Michigan State (15-13) was paced by forward Aaron Henry's 18 points.

"We huddled up at halftime as a coaching staff and tried to turn up the heat defensively in the second half and tried to make them uncomfortable as much as we could," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach. "The kids responded and I thought our intensity level obviously went way up in the second half defensively."
 
Juzang scored the first four points of overtime, putting UCLA up for good after opening the extra session with a post-up lay-up. He drove in from the left wing on the following possession and hit a running jumper to make it a four-point game for the Bruins. The Spartans would never get closer than three points the rest of way.
 
Trailing by double-digits heading into the locker room at halftime, the Bruins wasted no time getting back in the game once the second half started, going on a 9-2 run out of the gate to cut the deficit to four at 46-42. UCLA would stay within single digits from there on out.
 
The Bruins took their first lead since early in the first half after Jules Bernard absorbed contact and connected on a left-handed layup to make it 67-66 with 5:48 remaining in the second half, setting up a back-and-forth battle down the stretch.
 
UCLA found itself trailing, 77-72, with 1:29 remaining after a pair of Henry free throw makes, but the Bruins would score the final five points of the half to send it to overtime.
 
A spectacular individual effort from Jaquez Jr. produced the game-tying play. After missing the front end of a one-and-one, Jaquez pounced on his own rebound to create a second chance possession for the Bruins. A few moments later, sophomore guard Tyger Campbell found Jaquez Jr. down low, and he sunk a layup while absorbing contact to get sent to the line with a chance to tie the game. Jaquez Jr. converted on the ensuing free throw, and UCLA got a stop on the other end to end regulation in a 77-77 deadlock.

Michigan State used a balanced offensive attack – four different players scored seven points or more, and the team shot 56.7% from the field – to control the first half. Jaquez Jr. kept the Bruins afloat with a team-high 14 points in the opening half. 
 
The Bruins advance to face No. 6-seeded BYU in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, Mar. 20. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. PT. The game will be televised nationally on CBS.