LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One week ago, UCLA was in dilapidation and propitious to be there. At best, a Bruins were sticking to an doubtful wish that they would be invited to play in a NCAA Tournament. At that point, they did all they could.
“We were praying a lot,” core Tony Parker pronounced Saturday, after their praying had resoundingly incited to playing.
Yes, UCLA got into a Big Dance, and has incited into one of a distinguished dancers. Now a Bruins have done it into a Sweet Sixteen, violence University of Alabama-Birmingham, 92-75, and, in a difference of indicate ensure Bryce Alford, “Proving that we belong.”
The Bruins (22-13), carrying squeaked by SMU Thursday, played Saturday as if they never wish to leave. They battered a round inside to Parker, who had 19 of his 28 points in a initial half, and throttled UAB with abyss that saw Alford supplement 22 points and all 3 other starters measure in double total as well.
All of that seemed improbable final week, when a bracketologists generally discharged UCLA’s chances of removing in, and after that evening, when critics saw a Bruins’ inclusion as a pointer of a preference committee’s biggest mistake.
“We were going into a [Pac-12] discussion contest anticipating we could play well, and afterwards we mislaid a tough one to Arizona,” Parker, a 6-9 junior, said. “The preference cabinet suspicion we were good adequate to play in this contest and we consider we valid it.”
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There positively will be no evidence from UAB (20-16), a No. 14 seed in a South Region that had dumbfounded No. 3 Iowa State Thursday with a one-point win fueled by strength on a glass. The Blazers’ strength incited into disadvantage this time. UCLA out-rebounded them 41-26 and outscored them in a paint 52-22.
Alford regularly gathering and dished to Parker or other frontcourt players. So did Isaac Hamilton, who had 7 assists. “We did a unequivocally good pursuit of removing it to a rim, and afterwards Tony unequivocally finished well,” Steve Alford, a manager and Bryce’s father, said. “You’re looking during 6-9, 265 — given he’s not in here, 275. He’s a large body. So when he’s going to a rim, that’s tough to guard.”
Again, no contrariety from UAB, that got 25 points from ensure Robert Brown. Coach Jerod Haase said, “We attempted male [-to-man] We attempted zone. We attempted man. We attempted zone. But during a finish of a day, we weren’t means to guard.”
Only a genuine UCLA optimist could have foreseen this. Among those was comparison ensure Norman Powell, who finished his final final examination on Friday and upheld a basketball exam with 15 points on 5-for-8 sharpened Saturday. When he was asked to review how he felt Saturday with how he had felt a week before, Powell said, “The same thing I’m meditative right now, to make it to a Sweet 16 and make a run in this tournament. we was assured a whole time.”
Coach Alford knew it was no cinch. Last Sunday was harrowing for him. “You’re concerned since you’re not in control,” he said, recalling what it was like to watch a preference show: “You hear ‘U.C’ afterwards they contend ‘Irvine.’ Then they contend ‘the Bruins of’ and afterwards they contend ‘Belmont.’ You’re anticipating strike 3 doesn’t come.
“You wish we get a call subsequent time,” pronounced a male who will move his group to Houston after this week for a South regional, “and opportunely we did.”