11-seed UCLA caps First Four to Final Four run

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  • Graduate of University of Delaware.

INDIANAPOLIS — First Four to Final Four.

UCLA, which was one of the last four at-large teams selected to the NCAA tournament and earned an 11-seed, became the first team since VCU in 2011 to advance from the First Four to the Final Four, holding on to upset top-seeded Michigan on Tuesday night, 51-49.

The Bruins led for most of the final 25 minutes of the game, but a missed Jaime Jaquez 3-pointer in the final minute and Johnny Juzang going 1-for-2 from the free throw line with six seconds remaining left the door open for Michigan.

The Wolverines first went to Franz Wagner with 11 seconds left, but he air-balled the go-ahead 3-point attempt. After Juzang missed his second free throw, Michigan’s Mike Smith had a pull-up 3-pointer rim out, and Wagner’s desperation 3 at the buzzer didn’t fall either.

Juzang was UCLA’s main source of offense for most of the night, scoring 14 of the Bruins’ first 16 points and finishing with 28 points. He left briefly after landing awkwardly following a rebound but got his right ankle retaped and reentered the game.

UCLA lost its last four games leading up to the NCAA tournament, including a quarterfinal defeat in the Pac-12 tournament to Oregon State. The Bruins started the NCAA tournament down by 13 points to Michigan State late in the first half; at the time, ESPN’s win probability for UCLA in that game was 12.2%.

But the Bruins came back to beat the Spartans in overtime, knocked off BYU and Abilene Christian by double-figures, then downed 2-seed Alabama in overtime to advance to the Elite Eight.

And now they’re in the Final Four, where they will face unbeaten Gonzaga on Saturday night.

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