UCLA could have had plane tickets already in hand before tipoff. The Bruins are going to Memphis for the South Regional semifinals. Stephen F. Austin was a feel-good story for a day in the NCAA tournament after a stunning comeback against Virginia Commonwealth on Friday. And the Lumberjacks did their best to make the Bruins sweat a little. But they had an expiration date. It was on Sunday. UCLA was hardly at it best. It didn't have to be in a 77-60 victory at Viejas Arena that set up a showdown with No. 1-seeded and top-ranked Florida on Thursday. If there was any lingering doubt who was going to win on Sunday, Norman Powell cleansed those thoughts at the start of the second half. First, he went from flat-footed to above the rim for a dunk. Then he burst up court, stutter-stepped, dribbled behind the back and scored on a scoop shot. They don't do that too often in East Texas. The Bruins' boarding passes could have been printed right then and there. Oh, the Lumberjacks (33-3) put up some fight, but the clock was ticking on their 29-game winning streak. Jordan Adams finished with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, Powell had 16 points, three steals and two assists and Kyle Anderson contributed 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists. The Bruins shot 54.7% (29 of 53) from the field while holding the Lumberjacks to 35.7% (20 of 56). The Lumberjacks were led by guard Thomas Walkup, who finished with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 11 rebounds, while guard Desmond Haymon added 17 points. It wasn't the Bruins' best performance the last two weeks, but it took them past the NCAA tournament's first weekend for the first time since 2008, when they went to the Final Four. Now comes the hard labor. UCLA's path to the Final Four became easier this weekend. Second-seeded Syracuse was eliminated by Dayton. Third-seeded Kansas was ousted by Stanford. That leaves the Bruins with a manageable game in the South Regional final, if … wait. UCLA has had nothing but bad experiences playing Florida. The Gators beat the Bruins in the 2006 NCAA title game and again in the 2007 semifinals. Florida too another victory in the 2009 second round. Ah, but maybe the fourth time is a charm. If so, UCLA will have to be a little sharper than they were Sunday.
UCLA advances to Sweet 16 with 77-60 win over SFA
Los Angeles Times | Mar 23