UCLA rallies back to beat Michigan State in overtime to make it out of First Four

Ryan Young
·4 min read

Thanks to a huge and-one and an overtime stand, UCLA is moving on to the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Bruins rallied back from a 14-point deficit on Thursday night to beat Michigan State 86-80 in their First Four matchup at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana — the final one of the night.

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UCLA, after starting the half down 11, tied the game back up in the final minute after guard Jaime Jaquez converted a massive three-point play — which he only converted after snagging his own rebound on a missed free throw.

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The Bruins then held Michigan State to just three points in overtime — all of which came from Romeo Langford — to secure the six-point win. That stand completed a 16-5 run over the final eight minutes of the game.

Jaquez led UCLA with a career-high 27 points. Johnny Juzang added 21 points, though rolled his ankle in the final minute and had to be helped off the court. Juzang barely put any weight on his ankle while doing so.

Aaron Henry led Michigan State with 18 points and seven assists. Langford added 12 points.

“We had the game won, and we made some of the mistakes we’ve made two or three times this year in critical situations,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the loss.

UCLA will now move on to the first round, and will take on BYU on Saturday.

WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA - MARCH 18: Jaylen Clark #0 of the UCLA Bruins celebrates with teammates after defeating the Michigan State Spartans in the First Four game prior to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Mackey Arena on March 18, 2021 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
UCLA beat Michigan State in overtime on Thursday night to make it out of the First Four. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Mick Cronin's heartwarming celebration with his dad

Like countless other Americans, UCLA coach Mick Cronin hasn’t been able to see his family in person over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cronin’s father, Hep, opted to make the trip to Indiana for the game. Naturally, he stole the show throughout the broadcast with his incredible celebrations in the stands.

So, after the win, Hep made his way down to celebrate with his son — their first in-person meeting in a year.

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Norfolk State survives App State comeback

Though they nearly blew an 18-point second-half lead, Norfolk State made it out of the First Four on Thursday night in Bloomington.

The Spartans held on in the final seconds to beat Appalachian State 54-53 in a battle of two No. 16 seeds.

Norfolk State flew ahead almost instantly Thursday while Appalachian State went totally cold from the field. The Spartans mounted a huge 15-0 run over almost six minutes en route to their 16-point halftime lead. App State went a horrendous 0-of-18 from the 3-point line in the opening half, too.

Somehow, though, the game totally flipped after the break. App State shut the Spartans down from the field, holding them to just nine points in the first 14 minutes of the half while surging all the way back to take a brief six point lead.

That, however, wasn’t enough. Norfolk State bounced right back and hit a pair free throws in the final 10 seconds to secure the one-point win.

Justin Forrest led the Mountaineers with 18 points in the loss while shooting 7-of-19 from the field, though he was the only App State player to score in double figures. Jalen Hawkins led Norfolk State with 24 points off the bench while shooting 4-of-5 from behind the arc, and Joe Bryant Jr. added 10 points.

The Spartans will now advance to the first round of the tournament, where they’ll take on top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday.

Drake fought back from a 12-point deficit to beat Wichita State in its First Four matchup earlier on Saturday, which marked the Bulldogs’ first NCAA tournament win since 1971. Texas Southern beat Mount St. Mary’s 60-52 in their First Four game, too.

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