SAN DIEGO • Jordan Adams scored 19 points and UCLA beat Stephen F. Austin 77-60 on Sunday to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
The fourth-seeded Bruins (27-8) will play Florida, the tournament’s overall top seed, in the South Regional semifinals on Thursday in Memphis. First-year coach Steve Alford has won as many NCAA tournament games in three days as the Bruins had in the previous five seasons combined.
Alford replaced Ben Howland, who was fired a year ago after the Bruins lost to Minnesota in their NCAA tournament opener. This is UCLA’s first trip to the regionals since Howland got the Bruins to their third straight Final Four in 2008.
Stephen F. Austin (32-2), the No. 12 seed, had its 29-game winning streak snapped. The Lumberjacks hadn’t lost in exactly four months.
Florida beat UCLA in the national championship game in 2006 and again in the national semifinals the following season.
The Bruins have won five straight and seven of eight overall.
UCLA’s Norman Powell, who played at San Diego’s Lincoln High, scored 16 points and Kyle Anderson had 15 points and eight rebounds.
Thomas Walkup had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Lumberjacks while Desmond Haymon had 17 points and Nikola Gajic added 10. Haymon’s four-point play sent the Lumberjacks into overtime against fifth-seeded VCU on Friday night and SFA won 77-75.
The Lumberjacks hadn’t lost since Nov. 23, a 66-58 defeat at East Tennessee State. After Wichita State lost to Kentucky to have its 35-game winning streak snapped, SFA’s 29-game streak became the nation’s longest, for about 3 hours.
The Lumberjacks head back to Nacogdoches, Texas, having earned the first NCAA tournament victory in school history. They are 1-2 overall in the tournament.
The Lumberjacks stayed with the Bruins through much of the first half before the mismatch in talent and pedigree became obvious.
The Bruins, in the NCAA tournament for the 46th time and winners of 11 national titles, went on a 12-2 run in just less than 3 minutes, starting with a runner in the lane by Alford’s son, Bryce. Alford also had a 3-pointer that helped UCLA take a 32-21 lead with 5:44 left.
Three-pointers by Deshaunt Walker and Haymon closed the gap to five points before the Bruins finished the half on a 10-5 run to lead 42-32. Tony Parker had two layups and Adams a 3-pointer to help keep the lead in double digits.
Powell opened the second half with two big plays, a slam dunk and then a coast-to-coast drive with a behind-the-back move followed by a layup for a 46-32 lead.
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