PHOTOS: UCLA opens NCAA Tournament with thriller over SMU

Photos from UCLA’s 60-59 win over SMU on Thursday, March 19, one that pushed the Bruins to the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32. (AP/Getty)

– UCLA is just one game away from its second Sweet 16, thanks to a thriller over SMU in Louisville.
– Bryce Alford’s game-saving shot against SMU came exactly 20 years after Tyus Edney’s 4.8-second dash against Missouri. “I was saying, this day is magical for the Bruins,” Edney told columnist Mark Whicker.

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VIDEO: Kevon Looney talks about UCLA’s win over SMU

Kevon Looney donned his new mask against SMU, the fully transparent version protecting his still-healing facial fracture. The freshman forward finished 3 of 8 from the field for six points in the 60-59 win, but grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with an assist and a steal.

“Still getting used to it,” Looney said of the mask. “I shot the ball terribly today. Airballed a three. But I’m still doing everything else, like rebound and make plays and get steals and stuff like that. Shooting will come. I’m real comfortable now.”

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VIDEO: Norman Powell talks about UCLA’s win over SMU

Norman Powell scored 19 points in UCLA’s 60-59 win over SMU in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 64. It was the senior who broke UCLA out of an 8:40 scoring drought in the second half, hitting a layup with 4:16 on the clock.

He then assisted on Bryce Alford’s sixth and seventh 3-pointers, and finished with four assists, six rebounds, a block and a steal. He was responsible for nine of UCLA’ 14 free throw attempts, and was perfect at the line.

“We’re going to enjoy tonight,” Powell said. “Coach said we’re going to relax, have fun, and just enjoy this win. We have a day to prepare for (UAB in the next round). It’s getting focused on them the next morning.”

Too bad he had to take a final at the team hotel after the game.

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VIDEO: Thomas Welsh talks about UCLA’s win over SMU

Freshman center Thomas Welsh had one of the best games of his UCLA career, notching two points, six rebounds, four blocks in a 60-59 win over SMU to start the NCAA Tournament. He also made a key steal with 24 seconds left — making it possible for Bryce Alford to heave up his final, goaltended 3-point shot.

Asked what he was thinking when Alford’s shot was in the air, Welsh laughed and said: “That’s a great question. … Bryce was on fire all day. I thought it was a great look at it. I was just stunned when the guy went up and touched the ball.”

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VIDEO: Bryce Alford talks about win over SMU, goaltending call

Point guard Bryce Alford was the hero in UCLA’s 60-59 win over SMU to start the NCAA Tournament, scoring 27 points and hitting 9 of 11 from beyond the arc.

The sophomore made four 3-pointers in the last 3:40, but his last one got some help in the form of Yanick Moreira’s goltending.

“It’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me in the game of basketball,” Alford said.

Alford now holds UCLA’s single-season record for made 3-pointers with 88, one head of the 87 that Arron Afflalo had in 2007.

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