A UCLA team that needed overtime to advance out of the First Four is now headed to the Final Four. The No. 11 seed Bruins outlasted No. 1 seed Michigan 51-49 on Tuesday night to complete an improbable run through the East Regional and into a Saturday showdown with Gonzaga in the national semifinals.
The winner of that game will go to the national title game, but for now, the Bruins have a new accomplishment to add to their storied basketball lore. UCLA is just the second team ever to reach the Final Four after playing in the First Four, joining VCU’s 2011 team.
Tuesday’s victory over the Wolverines required every bit of fortitude the Bruins could muster. UCLA fell behind 13-6 in the opening minutes and looked lifeless offensively. But sophomore guard Johnny Juzang put the Bruins on his back, scoring 28 points in the game.
The Kentucky transfer has emerged as a true star for the Bruins in the NCAA Tournament, and Tuesday’s performance was his best yet. Juzang did miss a free throw with 6.3 seconds left that gave Michigan an opportunity to attempt a game-winner at the end of regulation. However, Michigan missed a pair of looks in the final seconds, and UCLA’s unlikely run survived for another day.
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