UCLA Advances to Elite Eight, Defeats Alabama, 88-78
INDIANAPOLIS – The Bruins secured an 88-78 win in overtime against No. 2-seed Alabama on Sunday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse, advancing to their first Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament since 2008.
UCLA (21-9) pulled off a thrilling victory in the Sweet 16 on Sunday, as six Bruins scored in double figures (for the first time this season).
The Bruins led at halftime, 40-29, and led the Crimson Tide by a 65-62 margin with under four seconds to play. Alabama tied the contest, 65-65, on a buzzer-beating 3-point shot by Alex Reese at the end of the second half.
UCLA scored the first five points in overtime and never looked back. The Bruins outscored Alabama by a 23-13 margin in the five-point overtime session.
Coach Cronin, Postgame | J. Jaquez Jr., Postgame
The win over Alabama has set up an Elite Eight showdown between the Bruins and No. 1-seed Michigan (23-4). UCLA's game on Tuesday evening against Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium will begin at 6:57 p.m. PT (9:57 p.m. ET).
"I just tried to stay calm with the guys, just tell them we've got to continue to execute," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach. "I thought our guys had found a rhythm with them defensively and adjusted a little bit to their speed. They'd kind of gone small, and it was going to be what it was going to be. They would run a pick-and-roll, get the switch, and try to beat us off the dribble."
All five starters for UCLA scored in double figures. Jules Bernard and Jaime Jaquez Jr. each had 17 points, while Johnny Juzang and Tyger Campbell had 13 points. Cody Riley finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four blocks. David Singleton made 3 of 4 attempts from 3-point range and tallied 15 points off the bench.
Freshman Jaylen Clark tallied a team-best nine rebounds in just over 18 minutes off the bench. Clark had a team-leading four offensive rebounds and also scored three points (all on free throws).
UCLA controlled the overtime session, despite having lost talented scorer Johnny Juzang (fouled out with over two minutes to play in regulation). Leading 74-70, the Bruins padded their cushion to 77-70 on a 3-point basket from Jaquez Jr. with 1:38 to play.
Alabama was forced to foul the Bruins the rest of the way. UCLA's final 11 points came at the free throw line.
Riley had a strong performance for the Bruins. Among his more memorable plays took place with 5:23 to play in regulation, slamming home an inbounds pass from Campbell to tie the contest, 56-56.
"Cody Riley really had some big stops, some blocked shots," added Cronin. "Obviously, not easy for a guy his size to stay in front of Jahvon Quinerly, but these guys have been resilient all year. I don't know if this is a fact, but we've got to be the only team left out here with no seniors. There were many times we could have packed it in, but I told them, they've been putting up with me for two years now trying to beat into them competitive spirit and toughness because, when you combine that with talent, you have a chance to do great things."
Jahvon Quinerly finished with a team-leading 20 points for Alabama (26-7). John Petty Jr. had 16 points and five rebounds.
UCLA will return to the Elite Eight for the first time since advancing to three consecutive Final Fours in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In addition, this marks the first Elite Eight berth for Coach Cronin, now in his second season at UCLA.