Bryce Alford ran down the court and leapt into his brother’s arms. Kory Alford tackled him to the court.
Bryce Alford, who had drawn the ire of some UCLA fans since his father recruited him to play in Westwood, had somehow, some way, brought UCLA back from a terrible collapse.
Three Alford three-pointers, plus a goaltending call on a fourth long-range shot with 10 seconds left, won the game for UCLA over Southern Methodist, 60-59, in the second round of the NCAA tournament's South Regional.
Alford had 27 points. He made nine of 11 three-pointers.
The Bruins had said all week that they weren’t listening to those who said they didn’t deserve an NCAA bid. They said that didn’t matter.
But all week, UCLA Coach Steve Alford and the players had been asked about their selection.
Finally, on Wednesday, Kevon Looney said, “Everybody doesn’t think we deserve to be here, and I think we’re going to try to prove them wrong. I think we feel that we deserve to be here. I think we’ll be ready for the game.”
UCLA, and the Alfords, got redemption.
In the first half, UCLA rode Norman Powell's aggression and the hot shooting of Bryce Alford, who made four of five three-pointers before halftime.
Powell finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Center Tony Parker had picked up two quick fouls. He played only six minutes before halftime. In the past, without Parker in the game, UCLA has been out of sync. But from off the bench, Thomas Welsh grabbed six rebounds in the first half against an imposing SMU frontcourt.
UCLA held SMU to 34.5% from the field and led 34-30 at the break.
UCLA held the Mustangs scoreless for the opening 5 minutes 30 seconds of the second half and used the drought to open a 10-point lead. SMU would make just one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the second half, a one-for-12 shooting slump.
UCLA led by 10 with slightly less than 13 minutes left. Then it fell apart. UCLA’s offense disappeared. They were scoreless for a total of 8:40, the longest drought since the beginning of the Kentucky game.
In that span, SMU went on a 19-0 run. Nic Moore, who finished with 24 points, made three three-pointers and UCLA had four shots blocked inside. When Powell finally scored before the four-minute mark, SMU had a 53-44 lead.
Then Bryce Alford brought the Bruins back form the brink. He made a three-pointer with 3:39 left. Then he made another.
But UCLA hurt itself. Welsh was called for an illegal screen while setting a pick for Alford. Powell dribbled the ball of his foot, had it stolen near midcourt and SMU got a layup.
Another Alford three-pointer made it a four-point game with a minute left. Powell followed with a pair of free throws to cut the Bruins' deficit to two, 59-57.
On the inbound, UCLA stole the ball, with a chance to tie or take the lead. Twenty-two seconds remained.
Alford wheeled and chucked one last three, an ill-advised shot that was well defended. It was falling short. But Yanick Moreira’s hand was near the rim and he was called for goaltending.
UCLA had taken the lead with 10.9 seconds left.
Two shots by Moore missed at the end, and the Bruins rushed the court.
Here's a recap of the game by Chris Foster:
Yanick Moreira called for goal tending on Bryce Alford three point try. SMU misses two shots in last 10 seconds. Bruins whip their brows.
Norman Powell makes two free thows to cut SMU lead to, 59-57. SMU turns ball over. Time out UCLA.
Bryce Alford hits another three. UCLA has chacne to cut lead to one, but Thomas Welsh called for offensive foul. SMU scores four straight for 59-52 lead.
Note to SMU: Bryce Alford can shoot three-pointers.
Alford hits three to cut SMU lead to, 53-49. Alford has 18 points, four shy of the Steve Alford line. Dad averaged 22.2 points in 11 NCAA tournament games.
19-0 ... then Norman Powell gets a layup. SMU, 53-46.
Bruins on extended coffee break. SMU looks like Kentucky (UCLA fans just winced) is on a 17-0 run. Nick Moore has made his last four shots, all three-pointers. Markus Kennedy has two dunks on run. SMU leads, 51-44.
Nic Moore drains three to give SMU lead, 47-44. UCLA's answer? Kevon Looney air-balls a three. Markus Kennedy dunks on other end.
Intestinal fortitude time for UCLA. Kevon Looney picks up third foul. UCLA has turned the ball over 15 times, leading to 14 SMU points. Mustangs trails, 44-43, and can take the lead after TV timeout.
Nic Moore ponies, nails back-to-back three-pointers. Bryce Alford turnover leads to Ryan Mannuel dunk. SMU not ready for last roundup, trails 44-43. A 9-0 run for SMU.
Now SMU can't even make free throws. UCLA has comfortable, 44-35, lead. Don't they teach shooting in Texas?
SMU has made only 1 of 11 shots in second half. UCLA lead, 44-34.
Norman Powell and Bryce Alford both have 15 points. UCLA leads, 44-34.
SMU finally scores in the second half. Markus Kennedy makes two free throws. UCLA leada, 40-32.
Bryce Alford drains three-pointer, talks some smack heading back up court. Tony Parker makes a free throw. UCLA has largest lead, 38-30, at TV timeout (15:43 left).
If you're late getting back with the pizza, you haven't missed anything. Still UCLA 34, SMU 30, 17:45 left in game.
Message from the front (Zach Helfand reporting): Heading into this game, who would've thought UCLA could lead at the half after Tony Parker played just six minutes? In the past, UCLA has been out of sync when Parker has been out our gotten into foul trouble (remember Arizona State?), but Thomas Welsh has stepped up off the bench. He has six rebounds against the talented SMU front court.
Norman Powell's runner gives UCLA a 34-30 over SMU at halftime.
Powell and Bryce Alford have 23 points for the Bruins, who are shooting 48% from the field. On the other end, SMU has struggled. The Mustangs have shot 35%.
Nate Moore has 11 points for SMU, but the 5-foot-9 guard has been a liability on defense.
Alford, who is 6-3, is getting good looks at the basket. He has made four of five three-pointers and has 12 points.
Announcer Verne Lundquist has referenced SMU Coach Larry Brown's UCLA days. Not once has he mentioned that recruiting violations coast Bruins its five NCAA tournament victories.
Bryce Alford has 12 points, making four of five three-pointers. His shooting has Bruins up 30-27 with 59 seconds left in half.
I worry about Georgia State Coach Ron Hunter's health. He tore an Achilles tendon when his team won the Sun Belt tournament title. He just fell to the floor against after Georgia State upset Baylor.
UCLA 27, SMU 27, 2:11 left in half.
Larry Brown still holds one UCLA basketball record: most NCAA tournament games vacaated.
Brown's Bruins reached the NCAA championship game in 1980, where they lost to Louisville. But recruiting violations wiped out the five tournament victories.
UCLA leads, 25-24, with 3:31 left in half -- the last TV timeout of half. Bryce Alford and Norman Powell have 16 of UCLA's points.
Nice of Kevon Looney to set a real screen. It's a lost art in basketball today. Looney's body-blocked freed up Norman Powell for a reverese dunk.
Either UCLA has picked up its defensive play, or SMU uncomfortable in unfamiliar arena (something that usually happens in tournament). Mustangs have made only six of 18 shots so far. They are only three of 15 on shots inside the three-point line.
UCLA leads, 20-17, with 7:43 left in half.
Norman Powell has made a career out of coast-to-coast drives. When he's going to the basket like that, Bruins build momentum.
Powell just drew a foul on such a play. He hit the two free throws to give UCLA a 20-17 lead with 8:17 left in the half.
Announcer Verne Lundquist has gone more than 10 minutes without mentioning Alabama, Auburn or LSU. May be a new record for the SEC's football announcer. Maybe not having football partner Gary Danielson helps.
UCLA has won 97 NCAA tournament games. SMU has won 10. Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) won 12 as a player for UCLA.
SMU not known for three-points. Mustangs have taken only 384 in 33 games. SMU has hit three so far for 12-11 lead with 13:04 left in half.
Message from the front (Zach Helfand reporting): Kevon Looney has had some success on the glass, but getting the ball inside has been tricky against this tough SMU defense. UCLA's first three possessions all ended with turnovers on post feeds. The Bruins are usually at their best when the can circulate the ball through Tony Parker in the paint, which frees up its guards. But the Mustangs play some of the best post-defense in the country.
Clear face mask seems to be working for UCLA's Kevon Looney. He has four points and will be going to foul line after TV timout.
UCLA leads, 10-5, with 14:38 left in half.
SMU gets first points, three-pointer by Cannen Cunningham. His first three this season.
Kevon Looney gets UCLA on the board with rebound and layup to make it, 3-2, SMU with 16:47 left in half.
UCLA just took the floor a little more than 25 minutes before tip-off.
The Bruins are wearing the "cummerbund" shorts, a tribute to Adidas, which have a dark blue stripe near the waistband.
Kevon Looney is wearing his new mask to protect his facial fracture, which he says is better molded to his face to give him a better field of vision. This one's clear, just like Russell Westbrook's. We'll keep you posted on his triple-double status.
There have been more than a few who questioned whether UCLA belonged in the NCAA tournament.
The Bruins have a 4-12 record playing outside Los Angeles. That includes an embarrassing 83-44, loss to No. 1 Kentucky.
The talk has UCLA players taking two different approaches to today’s game against Southern Methodist in the first-round of the South Regional in Louisville.
There is the senior’s opinion:
“Honestly, we’re just happy and excited to be here,” guard Norman Powell said. “I’m not really worried about what’s being said. Just looking to have an opportunity to play another game of basketball.”
Powell did admit, “I think this team is taking it as a little bit of fuel to their fire and more motivation to go out there and play.”
And then there is the freshman’s take:
“It's a lot of motivation,” forward Kevon Looney said. “Everybody doesn't think we deserve to be here, and I think we're going to try to prove them wrong. I think we feel that we deserve to be here. I think we’ll be ready for the game.”
Follow Chris Foster on Twitter @cfosterlatimes