UCLA’s Amari Bailey, left, and Tyger Campbell celebrate on the bench against UNC Asheville in the second half of the first round of the NCAA tournament in Sacramento on Thursday. UCLA won 86-53. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
No Furman here. No Princeton here. No late craziness or shocking weirdness or shining momentousness here.
No Cinderella, only smashing pumpkins.
UCLA was not going to lose its NCAA first-round tournament game to 18-point underdog North Carolina Asheville at the Golden 1 Center on Thursday night.
No way. No how. Not for all the madness in the world. This was evident in the first three minutes, which went roughly as follows:
UCLA layup. Asheville brick. UCLA two free throws. Asheville brick. UCLA trey. Asheville brick. UCLA dunk. Asheville brick. UCLA dunk. Asheville turnover. UCLA trey.
By the time the horribly overmatched Bulldogs could catch their breath, UCLA led 14-0, and it was over. A couple of hours later the final score was 86-53, and the final message was one that should resonate through this maddening March landscape.
UCLA is not messing around.
UCLA is not going to be Arizona or Virginia, two respected teams that fell in giant first-day upsets. UCLA is not taking their No. 2 seeding for granted. UCLA is beginning their march to the Final Four in a sprint. Their next stop on this treacherous journey is Saturday here in the second round against resurgent Northwestern, a team that also took its first round seriously with a strong win over Boise State.
Judging from Thursday night’s intensity and focus, keep betting the Bruins.
From the moment UCLA lost to Arizona last weekend in the Pac-12 tournament championship game, UCLA coach Mick Cronin knew it was on.
“They ran into a buzz saw tonight,” said Cronin. “We don’t take losing well at UCLA … we spell fun w-i-n and we lost our last game and these guys took it personal and you saw how we came out.”
Asheville seemed like a decent team. They had won 18 of their last 19 games, they were…
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Author : LA Times
Publish date : 2023-03-17 04:52:54
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