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No. 11 UCLA Cruises Past No. 14 Abilene Christian to Advance to Sweet 16

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 22, 2021

UCLA's Johnny Juzang (3) congratulates David Singleton (34) and Tyger Campbell (10) during a timeout in the first half of a college basketball game against Abilene Christian in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

UCLA is headed back to the Sweet 16 after knocking off No. 14 Abilene Christian in a 67-47 victory on Monday.

Johnny Juzang paced the Bruins, who improved to 20-9, with 17 points.

For the 24-5 Wildcats, who had a Cinderella moment after defeating No. 3 Texas in first-round play, Mahki Morris had a team-high 14 points, all of which came in the second half. 

Notable Performers

  • Johnny Juzang, UCLA: 17 PTS
  • Cody Riley, UCLA: 12 PTS, 12 REB
  • Mahki Morris, Abilene Christian: 14 PTS
  • Reggie Miller, Abilene Christian: 5 PTS, 8 REB, 7 AST

 

After Early Struggle, UCLA Dominates

The Bruins fell behind early as Abilene Christian opened up a 12-8 lead, but they quickly erased all memories of that by going on a monstrous 18-0 run that spanned nine minutes. 

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

16-0 run for the Bruins 👀 @UCLAMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/9IRwEwQmGL

Balanced scoring brought the Bruins to a 31-21 halftime lead, with Jake Kyman scoring eight points on perfect shooting off the bench. He hit both his three-point attempts to lead all scorers at the break. 

While the Wildcats started to build momentum at the end of the half, UCLA put the game away at the start of the second half when they emerged on another major run, this time outscoring Abilene Christian 14-1. 

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

UCLA NOT LETTING UP 💥 @UCLAMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/riDSZQQy6z

After the Bruins' early-game struggles, they recovered to end the night shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from three, though they never quite found their footing at the line. 

Johnny Juzang impressed with a game-high 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting. 

Abilene Christian Can't Break Through

The first half was dominated by the UCLA run that threatened to put the Wildcats away following balanced opening minutes, but Abilene Christian refused to go down easily.

The Wildcats ended the half by limiting UCLA to just five points in the final 6:48 of play as they built their way back from the doomed deficit. 

CBS Sports @CBSSports

Abilene Christian has its answer. The Wildcats answer UCLA's big run with one of their own 👀 https://t.co/wTyHpDUonP

At the break, Coryon Mason led the team with eight points, three of which came at the line. His success was part of what kept the Wildcats in it after 20 minutes since they posted a tough 26.9 field-goal percentage at the break but hit all five free-throw attempts, whereas UCLA missed all four of its foul shots.

Mahki Morris, who, like every other ACU bench player, failed to score in the first half, came alive late to add all 14 of his points after the break, leading all Wildcats scorers. 

What's Next? 

UCLA will get the winner of Monday night's game between No. 2 Alabama and No. 10 Maryland in the Sweet 16. 

While the run will continue for the Bruins, who are seasoned competitors in the tournament and around the NCAA, Joe Golding's squad has plenty to be proud of following its trip to the Big Dance, which came after its second Southland Conference championship in as many chances. With this exposure, the Wildcats may be in a position to entice prospects to head to Abilene in an effort to return. 

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