WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — UCLA showed plenty of fight in its overtime win over Michigan State in a First Four game in the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans showed some fight, too — among themselves.
After coach Tom Izzo and forward Gabe Brown carried a shouting match into the halftime locker room, the Spartans proceeded to blow an 11-point lead over the next 20 minutes. UCLA forced overtime with Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s three-point play with 3.3 seconds to go, then pulled away in the extra session for an 86-80 victory at Mackey Arena on Thursday night.
The Bruins’ Cody Riley hit a foul shot with 26 seconds left and, after the Spartans’ Joshua Langford missed at the other end, Jaylen Clark added two more to send UCLA into a first-round game against No. 6 seed BYU on Saturday night.
Jaquez finished with a career-high 27 points, Johnny Juzang added 18 and Riley and Jules Bernard had 11 apiece for the Bruins (20-7), who had backed into the tournament on the heels of four consecutive losses.
Aaron Henry led the Spartans (15-13) with 18 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
Both teams had a chance to end the game in regulation.
The Spartans regained the lead on Malik Hall’s two free throws with 5 minutes to go, then stretched it to five moments later. But after the Bruins came all the way back, and Jaquez’s three-point play knotted the game 77-all with 28.7 seconds left, the Spartans’ Rocket Watts shot an airball on a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Bruins inbounded the ball and got it to Juzang, whose heave from the midcourt line bounced off the rim.
That merely delayed UCLA’s first win over the Spartans in its last three tries.
Just about everything went right for Michigan State in the first half: It used two big runs minutes apart to establish a lead, then slowly extended it over the final 10 minutes, forcing UCLA coach Mick Cronin to burn two timeouts.
Well, just about everything went right.
That 11-point lead would have been more had Brown not blown a defensive assignment on Jaquez, allowing him to hit a buzzer-beating jumper. Izzo stormed out to yell at Brown, the junior forward roared back at his Hall of Fame coach, and Izzo tugged on the back of his jersey as the two continued shouting all the way up the tunnel.
The Bruins took advantage of the suddenly off-kilter Spartans.
With John Wooden’s retired Purdue jersey looking down from the rafters, the program he built into a dynasty went on a 10-2 run early in the second half. The Bruins got 3-pointers from Jaquez and Juzang, clamped down on defense and for a long stretch would have made the Wizard of Westwood proud on both ends of the floor.
They did most of it with starting forward Riley sitting with four fouls, too.
Riley was back on the floor for a crucial free throw in overtime, and the Bruins survived to make it a good start to their 50th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bruins will play the sixth-seeded Cougars on Saturday night in Indianapolis. They have split 24 matchups with BYU, losing the most recent matchup in November 2019 at the Maui Invitational. They also split their four NCAA Tournament games, with UCLA winning in 1965 and 1971 and the Cougars winning in 1950 and 1981.