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The Sports Report: UCLA, USC advance in NCAA men’s basketball tournament

BYU's Brandon Averette battles for the ball with UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr., right, as Jules Bernard closes in.
BYU’s Brandon Averette battles for the ball with UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr., right, as Jules Bernard closes in during the first half.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Ben Bolch on UCLA men’s basketball: The ball came off the rim and Jaime Jaquez Jr. powered his way toward it, ripping it away from the counterpart who held a nine-inch height advantage.

The overmatched 7-foot-3 center fell to the court in agony along the baseline. Jaquez and UCLA were on the attack once again, taking it to Brigham Young.

The Bruins built a double-digit halftime lead on the strength of Johnny Juzang’s shot-making and prevailed thanks to the toughness of Jaquez and others, pulling out a 73-62 victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

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UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell shrugged off a one-for-11 shooting start to make two late baskets and help the No. 11 seed Bruins (19-9) subdue the No. 6 seed Cougars (20-7).

Returning from a severely sprained ankle, Juzang finished with 19 of his 27 points in the first half, getting help from Jules Bernard (16 points) and Jaquez (13 points, eight rebounds) after Jaquez played nearly every minute for a second consecutive game.

The Bruins’ magical mystery tour of storied Indiana venues will last at least two more days. After moving from one arena where a statue of John Wooden stood outside to another where its legendary coach once played while in high school, UCLA will play No. 14 seed Abilene Christian in the second round Monday.

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Ryan Kartje on USC: Tenacious defense had taken USC this far, back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in four years, primed for a possible postseason run at a pivotal point in Andy Enfield’s eighth season at the helm. So when the Trojans finally decided to clamp down in their tournament debut Saturday, Drake quickly came apart.

A huge first-half from Joseph Yesufu, the Bulldogs’ fearless point guard, kept Drake alive for the first half and the few minutes that followed. But it wasn’t enough to upend an elite defensive effort from USC, which eventually rolled to a 72-56 victory in a West Region game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The sixth-seeded Trojans (23-7) will face third-seeded Kansas on Monday, with a chance to earn an invite to their first Sweet 16 since 2007, seven years before Enfield took the job at USC.

In his eight seasons, the coach hasn’t seen a defense quite like the one USC trotted out in the second half against No. 11 Drake. USC shut down Yesufu, clogged the lane, and allowed just 19 points after halftime. At one point, the Bulldogs (26-5) were just two for 23 from the perimeter.

Even as USC got off to a slow start in the second half, it didn’t matter. Its defense ruled the day.

Bill Plaschke: Potent USC has started what should be a magical NCAA tournament run

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Ben Bolch on UC Santa Barbara: The upset, and the rare moment of national glory, was UC Santa Barbara’s for the taking.

Swarmed on the wing, star guard JaQuori McLaughlin split two defenders with a pass that found forward Amadou Sow in the paint in the final seconds of the Gauchos’ first-round NCAA tournament game against Creighton.

Sow had given his team a one-point lead on a similar sequence only moments earlier, taking a pass from McLaughlin and making two free throws after getting fouled.

This time, he had a much cleaner look at the basket. The ball soared toward the rim. It bounced out with three seconds left.

The dream died with it.

The Gauchos walked slowly, dejectedly off the Lucas Oil Stadium court Saturday after a 63-62 loss to No. 5 seed Creighton that could have easily gone the way of the No. 12 seed making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in a decade.

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VCU was kicked out of the NCAA tournament hours before its first-round game Saturday because multiple players tested positive for COVID-19, an outbreak that imperiled the 68-team event and underscored, once again, the delicate nature of staging such a spectacle amid a pandemic a year after it was canceled entirely.

The game against Oregon was declared a “no contest” with the Ducks advancing to the second round.

“It was devastating. It was heartbreaking. No dry eyes. This is what you dream of as a college player and a coach. To get it taken away like this, it’s just a heartbreaking moment in their young lives,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “It just stinks. There’s no way I can sugarcoat it.”

VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin declined to say which players tested positive, citing privacy concerns. There were multiple positive tests over two days.

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Follow every tournament game at home or at work with our live coverage, available here

Check out the men’s bracket here

March Madness: How to watch, stream every 2021 NCAA tournament game

LAKERS

Dan Woike on the Lakers: LeBron James knocked over a chair, a silent, empty Staples Center somehow even quieter as he limped his way to the Lakers’ locker room.

James has injured his ankles before — he has been on the team’s injury report with a sore left ankle since the season opener. And Saturday afternoon, after he fell to the court in agony, grabbing at his lower right leg, James did what he always does. He rose, bent over, relaced his sneakers and kept playing.

It’s why his ankles are legendary in NBA circles, bionic joints that somehow can withstand any type of contortion. But this was different.

“We do forget that he’s human,” teammate Montrezl Harrell said.

James suffered a high right ankle sprain in the Lakers’ 99-94 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, an injury that will keep him out indefinitely and further strain the strands that are holding together the Lakers’ chances of repeating as champions.

The injury happened early in the second quarter when Atlanta’s Solomon Hill slammed into James’ right leg, forcing his ankle to fold inward. James fell to the court and screamed. The player who refuses to accept fatigue because it exposes weakness was now on the floor, grabbing at his leg while his howls echoed around an empty arena.

The NBA playoffs are scheduled to begin May 22, nine weeks from Saturday.

CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: For a Clippers squad that has so rarely helped itself during the last month while stuck in a cycle of inconsistency and injuries, any help with playoff positioning is needed. The Clippers entered Saturday’s matchup with Charlotte fourth in the Western Conference but closer to fifth and sixth than second and third with only 30 games remaining to make up ground. Should the uber-durable James be sidelined for long, and with 10 of their next 12 games at home, the Clippers might have an opportunity to do that.

Of course, they must take care of business first, and they did just, overrunning Charlotte for a 125-98 victory that was never in doubt after the first quarter thanks to Paul George’s 21 points and 10 assists, the sixth game of his career with at least 20 points and 10 assists.

Starters for both teams checked out midway through the fourth quarter. Kawhi Leonard scored 17 points and seven Clippers scored in double figures.

The Clippers (27-16) moved within four games of West-leading Utah, and while catching the Jazz — who own the season-series tiebreaker — seems unlikely, Phoenix and the Lakers are only 1½ games ahead. Just as important, it provided one game of breathing room on fifth-place Denver and sixth-place Portland.

If the Clippers win Monday against Atlanta, it will be their first back-to-back victories since Feb. 14-15.

UCLA GYMNASTICS

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Bruins: It started like a dream. The Pac-12 championships ended in a familiar nightmare for UCLA.

Despite scoring season bests on floor and vault, the Bruins finished third in the Pac-12 championships after they were doomed by another disappointing beam rotation.

In position for a much-needed season high, UCLA had to count a fall on beam for the second time in the past three meets and settled for a 196.725.

UCLA’s total was a whole point behind No. 6 Utah, who knocked off the two-time defending conference champions with a 197.725. No. 5 California, which entered the meet as the top-ranked team in the conference, capitalized on UCLA’s late mistakes and finished second with a total score of 197.365.

DUCKS

Derick Brassard completed a hat trick early in the second period, and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Ducks 5-1 at Honda Center to end a five-game losing streak.

Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist, and Clayton Keller scored for the second straight game. Antti Raanta made 27 saves, allowing only Adam Henrique’s late goal.

Ryan Miller was pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots in the first period for the last-place Ducks (9-17-6). Anthony Stolarz made 12 saves in relief. Anaheim has lost five of six, with the victory coming in overtime Thursday night against Arizona (13-13-5).

OLYMPICS

Spectators from abroad will be barred from the Tokyo Olympics when they open in four months, the IOC and local organizers said Saturday.

The decision was announced after an online meeting of the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government, the Tokyo government, the International Paralympic Committee and local organizers.

The move was expected and rumored for several months. Officials said the risk was too great to admit ticket holders from overseas during a pandemic, an idea strongly opposed by the Japanese public. Japan has attributed about 8,800 deaths to COVID-19 and has controlled the virus better than most countries.

“In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the Tokyo organizing committee said in a statement.

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT RESULTS, SCHEDULE

Follow every tournament game at home or at work with our live coverage, available here

All times Pacific
Saturday’s results

First round
West Regional
No. 1 Gonzaga 98, No. 16 Norfolk State 55
No. 2 Iowa 86, No. 15 Grand Canyon 74
No. 3 Kansas 93, No. 14 Eastern Washington 84
No. 13 Ohio 62, No. 4 Virginia 58
No. 5 Creighton 63, No. 12 UC Santa Barbara 62
No. 6 USC 72, No. 11 Drake 56
No. 7 Oregon d. No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth, uncontested
No. 8 Oklahoma 72, No. 9 Missouri 68

East Regional
No. 1 Michigan 82, No. 16 Texas Southern 66
No. 2 Alabama 68, No. 15 Iona 55
No. 14 Abilene Christian 53, No. 3 Texas 52
No. 4 Florida State 64, No. 13 UNC Greensboro 54
No. 5 Colorado 96, No. 12 Georgetown 73
No. 11 UCLA, 73, No. 6 BYU 62
No. 10 Maryland 63, No. 7 Connecticut 54
No. 8 LSU 76, No. 9 St. Bonaventure 61

Today’s schedule

Midwest Regional
No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 8 Loyola of Chicago, 9 a.m., CBS
No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 11 Syracuse, 2:15 p.m., CBS
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 10 Rutgers, 4 p.m., TBS
No. 4 Oklahoma State. vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 6:30 p.m., TBS

South Regional
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 9 Wisconsin, 11:40 a.m., CBS
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 6 Texas Tech, 3 p.m., TNT
No. 7 Florida vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts, 4:45 p.m., TruTV
No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 13 North Texas, 5:45 p.m., TNT

Monday’s schedule

West Regional
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 7 Oregon, 9 a.m., CBS
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 8 Oklahoma, 11:30 a.m., CBS
No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 13 Ohio, 3 p.m., TNT
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 6 USC, 6:30 p.m., CBS

East Regional
No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian, 2:15 p.m., TBS
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 8 LSU, 4 p.m., CBS
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 5 Colorado, 4:45 p.m., TBS
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 10 Maryland, 5:45 p.m., TNT

NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

All times Pacific
Today
First round

River Walk Regional
No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Central Michigan, 9 a.m., ESPN
No. 7 Virginia Tech vs. No. 10 Marquette, 9 a.m., ESPNU
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Idaho State, 11 a.m., ESPN
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Middle Tennessee, 11 a.m., ABC
No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Florida Gulf Coast, Noon, ESPN2
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 15 Jackson State, 1 p.m., ABC
No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 South Dakota State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 16 High Point, 5 p.m., ESPN

Alamo Regional
No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Wake Forest, 10 a.m. ESPN2
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 16 Utah Valley, 7 p.m., ESPN

Mercado Regional
No. 1 North Carolina State vs. No. 16 North Carolina A&T, 1 p.m., ESPN
No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 9 Washington State, 6:30 p.m. ESPN2

Hemisfair Regional
No. 5 Georgia Tech vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, 1:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 16 Mercer, 3 p.m., ESPN
No. 8 Oregon State vs. No. 9 Florida State, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 4 West Virginia vs. No 13 Lehigh, 5 p.m., ESPNU

Monday
First round

Alamo Regional
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 14 Drexel, 9 a.m., ESPN2
No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Wright State, 11 a.m., ESPN
No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Central Florida, 1 p.m., ESPNU
No. 5 Missouri State vs. No. 12 UC Davis, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 15 Marist, 5 p.m., ESPN
No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 11 South Dakota, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Mercado Regional
No. 6 Rutgers vs. No. 11 BYU, 9 a.m., ESPNU
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 VCU, 11 a.m., ESPNU
No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 14 Stony Brook, 11 a.m., ESPN2
No. 5 Gonzaga vs. No. 12 Belmont, 1 p.m., ESPN2
No. 7 Iowa State vs. No. 10 Michigan State, 3 p.m., ESPN
No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 15 Troy, 3 p.m., ESPN2

Hemisfair Regional
No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 North Carolina, 9 a.m., ESPN
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 15 Mount St. Mary’s, 1 p.m., ESPN
No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Bradley, 5 p.m., ESPN2
No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 14 Wyoming, 7 p.m., ESPN

Check out the women’s bracket here

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1893 — The first women’s collegiate basketball game is played at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. In this game, each basket is worth 1 point and the freshman class beats the sophomore class 5-4. The game takes place behind locked doors and men are prohibited from watching.

1941 — Joe Louis knocks out Abe Simon in the 13th round at Olympia Stadium in Detroit to retain the world heavyweight title.

1945 — George Mikan of DePaul scores 53 points in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. Mikan matches Rhode Island in offensive output and his teammates add another 44 for a final score of 97-53.

1953 — Rookie Bob Cousy sets an NBA record with 50 points and leads the Boston Celtics to a 111-105 victory over the Syracuse Nationals in a quadruple overtime playoff game. Cousy scores 30 of his points from the foul line.

1959 — California edges West Virginia 71-70 for the NCAA basketball championship. Jerry West scores 28 points for West Virginia.

1959 — Oscar Robertson scores the first triple-double in the NCAA tournament’s Final Four history, tallying 39 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists in Cincinnati’s 98-85 win over Louisville in the third-place game.

1964 — UCLA caps a 30-0 season with a 98-83 victory over Duke in the NCAA basketball championship. UCLA is the third team to go undefeated and win the title. The victory gives coach John Wooden the first of his ten NCAA Tournament championships.

1970 — Curtis Rowe scores 19 points and Sidney Wicks adds 17 points and grabs 18 rebounds to lead UCLA to an 80-69 victory over Jacksonville for its fourth consecutive NCAA basketball championship. Jacksonville ends the season with a scoring average of 100.4 points per game, the first team to average more than 100 points per game in a college basketball season.

1973 — Frank Mahovlich scores his 500th goal as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2.

1984 — Glenn Anderson of Edmonton scores his 50th goal of the season and helps the Oilers beat the Hartford Whalers 5-3. The Oilers become the first NHL team to have three 50-goal scorers in one season.

1990 — Brett Hull of St. Louis becomes the sixth player in NHL history to score 70 goals in a season with a goal in the Blues’ 8-6 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

1993 — Patty Sheehan wins her 30th tournament to become the 13th member of the LPGA Hall of Fame, shooting a 3-under 70 for a five-stroke victory over Kris Tschetter and Dawn Coe-Jones in the Standard Register Ping.

1996 — Todd Eldredge becomes the first American in eight years to win the gold medal at the World Figure Skating Championships.

2002 — Missouri becomes the first 12th-seeded team to reach the round of eight by beating UCLA 82-73 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

2008 — Alex Ovechkin becomes the NHL’s first 60-goal scorer in 12 years by netting two in the Washington’s 5-3 victory over at Atlanta.

2008 — For the first time, four NCAA men’s basketball tournament first-round games at the same site on the same day are being classified as upsets. Two No. 12 seeds Western Kentucky and Villanova, and No. 13s San Diego and Siena win first-round games in Tampa, Fla.

2010 — Louis Dale scores 26 points, Ryan Wittman adds 24 and No. 12 seed Cornell upsets the fourth-seeded Badgers 87-69, becoming the first Ivy League school in more than 30 years to advance to the round of 16.

2010 — Teemu Selanne becomes the 18th player in NHL history to score 600 goals, reaching the milestone in the Anaheim Ducks’ 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The only other European-born players in the 600-goal club are Finnish countryman Jari Kurri (601) and the Czech Republic’s Jaromir Jagr (646).

2011 — Courtney Vandersloot has 29 points and 17 assists to help Gonzaga beat UCLA 89-75 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Vandersloot becomes the first player in Division I history — men or women — to record 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in a career.

2011 — Jantel Lavender scores 17 of her 21 points in the second half to set an NCAA record with her 135th straight double-figure scoring game, leading Ohio State past Georgia Tech 67-60.

2013 — Julia Mancuso races to her record 16th title in the U.S. Alpine Championships, winning the giant slalom in her hometown of Squaw Valley, Calif.

2013 — Harvard earns its first NCAA tournament victory — a 68-62 upset of No. 3 seed New Mexico. Wesley Saunders scores 18 points and Laurent Rivard makes five 3-pointers to help the 14th-seeded Crimson pull off the upset.

And finally

Teemu Selanne scores his 600th goal. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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