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Men's Basketball Advances to the Sweet 16

Mar 22, 2021
Johnny Juzang (left) and Cody Riley both scored in double figures in UCLA's win on Monday

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INDIANAPOLIS– For the first time since 2017, the No. 11-seed UCLA men's basketball team booked a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, posting a 67-47 victory over No. 14-seed Abilene Christian on Monday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

With the win, the Bruins (20-9) have advanced to face No. 2-seed Alabama (26-6) on Sunday, March 28.

UCLA registered its third win of this season's NCAA Tournament in five days. The Bruins had picked up wins over Michigan State (86-60 in OT) last Thursday night in the First Four and versus BYU (73-62) on Saturday evening.

"Our guys were awesome today," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach. "They're a team that's so hard to play against defensively. For us only to have eight turnovers was just a tremendous job by our guys and a very short prep. Obviously our third game, flying from L.A., and then having to play at Purdue and up and back twice. The guys have been through a lot in the last couple weeks on our team, but it's brought them together. They've showed a lot of character. They're really easy to coach right now. They're fun to coach, and I give our players absolutely all the credit in the world. They made today's game look a lot easier than it was. It was not easy in person."

Sophomore guard Johnny Juzang, who averaged 25.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in the team's first two wins of the tournament, continued his hot play on Monday. He scored a game-high 17 points on 7 of 15 shooting from the field, including 3 of 7 from behind the 3-point arc.

Junior forward Cody Riley (12 points, 12 rebounds) and sophomore guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (10 points) were the two other Bruins to score in double figures.

"This is March Madness, so we just locked in and we saw that they beat Texas, so we had a lot of respect for them from the jump and knew what they were capable of defensively with the quick guards that they have and their activity on defense," told reporters Riley after the game. "So we were locked in and tried our best not to turn the ball over and take care of it and share the ball and make good team plays."

The Bruins held Abilene Christian (24-5) to 29.8 percent shooting from the field (17 of 57). The Wildcats made four of 19 shots from 3-point range (21.1 percent). Only one player from Abilene Christian scored in double figures, as senior Mahki Morris tallied a team-high 14 points.

UCLA notched two substantial scoring runs against Abilene Christian, dominating the Wildcats in both the first and second half. After trailing 12-8 to start the game, the Bruins went on an 18-0 run to take a 26-12 lead.

Abilene Christian reduced UCLA's advantage to 10 points at halftime (31-21) before the Bruins opened the second half on a 14-1 run to take a 45-22 lead. The Bruins never looked back, enjoying a sizable advantage for the remainder of the game.

With the win on Monday, UCLA secured its fourth trip to the tournament's "Sweet 16" in eight seasons (the Bruins advanced in 2014, 2015 and 2017).

POSTSEASON NOTES: UCLA has recorded its 15th trip to the "Sweet 16" (regional semifinals) since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 … previous Sweet 16 trips (since 1985) have occurred in 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2017 … through those previous 14 appearances, the Bruins have posted a 6-8 record with four trips to the Final Four (1995, 2006, 2007 and 2008) … in the four most recent trips to the Final Four, UCLA has compiled a 3-3 record (including the 1995 NCAA title). Overall, UCLA has advanced to 50 NCAA Tournaments and 18 NCAA Final Fours and won a nation-leading 11 NCAA Championships.