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Thu 19/03/2015 - 20:22 EDT

UCLA-UAB Round Of 32 Game Rematch From November

Neither UCLA nor UAB was supposed to win its first-round game in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday but the Bruins and Blazers pulled off upsets and  now they will play Saturday for a spot in the Sweet 16.  UCLA opened as a 7.5-point favorite at BetOnline. It's a rematch from a Nov. 28 game.

No. 11 UCLA (21-13), a team many believed didn't deserve an at-large spot in the Big Dance, upset No. 6 SMU 60-59 in Louisville. With the Bruins trailing 59-57 in the final seconds, UCLA sophomore guard Bryce Alford, son of head coach Steve Alford, hoisted a three-point shot. SMU center Yanick Moreira tipped the ball while it appeared to still be above the cylinder of the basket and was called for goaltending, giving UCLA a one-point lead. SMU was unable to answer on the other end of the floor. Nic Moore missed a pair of three-pointers and the Mustangs were eliminated.

Bryce Alford made 9-of-11 3-point field goals. Alford is the 10th player to make at least nine 3-points in an NCAA Tournament game and the first since Baylor's Brady Heslip in 2012 (9 vs. Colorado). UCLA closed the game on a 16-6 run over the final 4:16, with 12 of its points coming via Alford 3-pointers. SMU had gone on a 19-0 run over the previous 8:39. The loss was SMU coach Larry Brown's first NCAA Tournament defeat since his Kansas Jayhawks lost to Georgetown in the 1987 Sweet 16 on March 19, 1987.

No. 14 UAB beat No. 3 Iowa State 60-59. The Blazers fell behind 12-2 early but from there simply outplayed and outhustled the heavily favored Cyclones. UAB outrebounded Iowa State 52-37 (including 19 offensive rebounds) and made all the clutch plays down the stretch. William Lee made a 15-foot jumper with 24 seconds left and sank two free throws with 12 seconds remaining to clinch it.

Sophomore Denzell Watts played an extended role on Thursday with Nick Norton battling sickness. Watts, who was playing against hometown friend and Iowa State point guard Monte Morris, had six points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and one turnover in 29 minutes. He was one minute short of tying his season-high in minutes that he set in the regular season opener against Louisiana Monroe. He was also part of a bench than not only provided 19 points and 21 rebounds. UAB improved to 10-14 in NCAA Tournament games. It was the program's first NCAA Tournament victory since beating LSU, 82-68, on March 17, 2005 in Boise, Idaho. The Blazers advance past the first round for the seventh time in 15 tournament appearances.

Back on Nov. 28, UCLA was ranked No. 22 and beat UAB 88-76 in the Bahamas. Isaac Hamilton scored 21 points, Norman Powell scored 17 points and Alford went 11 for 12 from the foul line on his way to a 14-point night. Kevon Looney had 13 and Thomas Welsh 12. Norton and C.J. Washington each scored 17 points for UAB. Chris Cokley and Lewis Sullivan scored 13 points apiece for the Blazers. The Bruins are 3-0 against UAB all-time.

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