UCLA blows out Lumberjacks, advances to first Sweet Sixteen since 2008

SAN DIEGO — A few hours before tipoff, Stephen F. Austin laid claim to the longest winning streak in college basketball.

Or rather, the claim fell into the Lumberjacks’ laps. In St. Louis, eighth-seeded Kentucky felled Wichita State, ending the Shockers’ dream of an undefeated season. Some 1,800 miles away at Viejas Arena, SFA inherited the mantle of the country’s hottest team.

Alas, its 29-game streak died before nightfall.

Fourth-seeded UCLA easily dispatched the Cinderella from East Texas on Sunday evening, trailing for just 25 seconds of a 77-60 win over the Lumberjacks.

With the win, the Bruins advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2008. It also ends a long drought for first-year head coach Steve Alford, whose lone trip came in 1999 when he led 12th-seeded Southwest Missouri State to upsets over Wisconsin and Tennessee.

Up next? Who else but Florida — a top overall seed riding a 28-win streak, and the program responsible for three of UCLA’s last six tournament exits.

But no matter for now. UCLA has earned the right to celebrate this moment, having now beaten four of its last five opponents by at least 17 points.

Against SFA, it scored nearly at will — shooting 55 percent from the field and earning 42 points inside the paint. Sophomore guard Jordan Adams led the team with 19 points, while point guard Kyle Anderson had 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists. In front of his hometown crowd, junior Norman Powell scored 15.

The Bruins didn’t play spotlessly in the first half, but still entered halftime with a comfortable 42-32 lead. Against a team that was fourth-best in the country at forcing turnovers, UCLA kept its tally spotless for over eight minutes. At the break, no Bruin except backup point guard Bryce Alford — two turnovers — had coughed up the ball.

After the first 4:40 of the second half, the Lumberjacks never got within single digits again.

Somehow, SFA outrebounded UCLA, 20-14, at halftime, collecting five of those boards on offense. Looking fearless if outmatched on the big stage, the Lumberjacks scrapped for loose balls despite not starting a player taller than 6-foot-6. On one missed three-pointer, SFA boxed out for two back-to-back rebounds before finally putting in a layup.

But it was never enough. Stephen F. Austin cut the deficit to three with 9:30 left in the first half, and to five with 3:53 — hitting key 3-pointers both times. Within the next three or four minutes, the Bruins would stretch the lead back to double digits.

The Lumberjacks never could find the bucket enough from long range, perhaps their only hope for an upset. UCLA entered the round of 32 allowing 3-point attempts at a higher rate than all but three other Division I teams, making them vulnerable to a lights-out showing from beyond the arc.

Stephen F. Austin hit just 4-of-13 in the first half, and finished 7-of-27. UCLA dared them to let it fly, switching to a zone after the Lumberjacks scored six of their first 12 points in the paint. SFA didn’t score a field goal for the next 6:24.

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  • samollie

    I like our chances, all pressure on Florida

  • samollie

    And BN sticks with the agenda, the emperor wears no clothes and the joke continues. Give them a gun and let them take care of business….

  • Mark

    All those other coaches so called Ucla fans demanded…they ain’t in the Sweet 16!

    • pennyfan041

      Yeah, but they’d rather have the coach who lost in the round of 64 to the team we just demolished. But alas, they’d surely find something he did 11 years ago and demand an apology as if he did it to them and not to someone 2,000 miles away. Perhaps they’d rather have Bill Self….wait. Oops. Apparently, he lost too.

      • mbruin

        With each Bruin win you can hear a BN editor’s head explode…. Wait, there goes another one.

        • pennyfan041

          I am legitimately curious to know what anyone at BN would say if we won it all. Would they strike our 12th championship banner forever in their hearts? Would they say the players won every tourney game DESPITE the coach and his NAIA caliber, PAC-12 All Freshmen Team son? Would they simply pout and say funny words like nepotism, dumpster-fire, meh, rape-apologist, and whatever other BN rhetoric is out there? Oh yeah, and ########DADDYBALL! Can’t forget that one. I am excited to visit their site if we win.

    • maze949

      Go away, homophobic, racist idiot! GO BRUINS!

  • cheatON!

    Exactly Samollie, the BN crowd continues to beat that dead horse. So proud of our Bruins and our great coaching staff! Let’s take down Florida

    • Oz

      I’ve said it before, I like reading BN when things are going well. I roll my eyes so much, I just start laughing out loud. It’s like watching a movie so god awful, that you can’t help enjoy yourself.

    • https://www.facebook.com/charles.bucket.3 Charlie Bucket

      Go Bruin Nation! BN #2 fan. SDT is #1 of coarse.

      • NOBSisdaMAN

        Boring

  • Oz

    “having now beaten four of its last five opponents by at least 17 points.” Great stat. UCLA beat Arizona’s tough D, they can beat Florida.

    • The_Sports_Dude

      The only problem with this comparison is that Billy Donovan is light-years better than Sean Miller.

  • JJBruin

    What a great Bruin win. Listen to the guys on the team and they give Alford & Co. credit. The boys at BN are deranged. I finally gave up on them. Lets win 4 more!!

  • SUCC de trop

    UCLA makes the Sweet Sixteen, and SUCC’s in the cellar, it doesn’t get any better than that. UCLA have a excellent chance to advance and Alford has done great job.

    • https://www.facebook.com/charles.bucket.3 Charlie Bucket

      Ain’t nothing better than us winning and the losing. I actually think it’s better to hate them. Everyone agree?

      • Reformed Droog

        I think you’ve proven that over the years on Inside USC. I have no issue with friendly competition, but let’s keep it classy.

        • NOBSisdaMAN

          Good luck with that

    • NOBSisdaMAN

      Yawn

  • MPPBruin

    So proud of these guys. Offense looked so fluid today. Great passing. They won as a team.

  • https://www.facebook.com/charles.bucket.3 Charlie Bucket

    High five everyone. I’m so glad to be a Bruin fan.

    • https://www.facebook.com/charles.bucket.3 Charlie Bucket

      But of coarse I’m also an alumni.

      • JPKB

        Your claim to be an alumnus seems dubious as 99.99% of UCLA alumni would know “coarse” from “course” but I am splitting hairs here. Everyone on the bandwagon!

        • NOBSisdaMAN

          Don’t believe it.

          • JPKB

            I believe it about as much as I believe Nestor and Tye-die from the phony troll site are UCLA alums and fans.

  • jameskatt

    The Bruins had 20+ assists to only 3 turnovers. This means they played as a team, within their team concept, and they did not beat themselves. This is a testament to Coach Alford. He is doing a great job. And it is also a testament to the players to play as a team.

    Go Bruins!

    They now have a chance to avenge the previous losses against Florida. And the Bruins are heating up just at the right time – March Madness.

  • jameskatt

    Coach Alford did the best thing any UCLA coach has ever done for our players: He told them to have fun. This has taken a huge load off the players. They aren’t so tight and afraid of making mistakes as in the past several years. And they have learned to play as a team.

  • ProbationU

    I wonder what poor little Tydides will do next if the Bruins beat Florida. He probably still lives with his mother. Maybe she will ground him.

    Coach Alford has brought this team along and will face their toughest challenge of the year on Thursday. On paper, it does not look like a favorable matchup for us. We will need to rebound like maniacs and defend, defend, defend. Go Bruins!

  • NOBSisdaMAN

    We did it! SWEET

  • Dan Wayne

    A great win, Keep it going Bruins.

    GO BRUINS