North Carolina pulls away for win over UCLA, ousting Bruins from NCAA tournament

North Carolina forward Brady Manek celebrates after scoring a basket during a 73-66 win over UCLA.
North Carolina forward Brady Manek (45) celebrates after scoring a basket during a 73-66 win over UCLA in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament Friday.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

The No. 4 UCLA Bruins could not counter the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels’ Caleb Love on Friday night, falling in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

UCLA had no answers for Caleb Love’s long-range shooting down the stretch.

Love scored 30 points, including back-to-back three-pointers in the final minute, that helped North Carolina earn a 73-66 win over the Bruins.

UCLA’s Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. showed fatigue late in the contest, missing multiple shots. Jules Bernard played a key role, helping UCLA hold a lead for long stretches.

But in the final minute, UCLA couldn’t find the magic that powered it to the Final Four last season.

The No. 8 Tar Heels advance in a year dominated by underdogs, dispatching No. 4 UCLA. North Carolina will next face tournament fan favorite Saint Peter’s as the Bruins head back to Los Angeles.

UCLA’s March Madness run ends in heartbreaking Sweet 16 loss to North Carolina

PHILADELPHIA — This was not the end he envisioned to what had seemed like another step in another magical journey only moments earlier.

After he had pushed through so much, carrying his team with his shots and his spirit while playing on a bad ankle, Jaime Jaquez Jr. finally had to acknowledge it was over.

He stuck the tail of his UCLA jersey in his mouth and glanced around the Wells Fargo Center in the final moments Friday night, no savior in sight.

Extending his misery, Jaquez had to make the long, lonely walk to the free throw line on the opposite end of the court after officials put three-tenths of a second back on the clock so that North Carolina could shoot two meaningless free throws to extend its massive game-ending push.

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Caleb Love crushes UCLA’s shot at a return to Final Four

Caleb Love hit a pair of free throws with eight seconds left.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. missed a long three-pointer and the UNC celebration began.

The officials called a foul sent R.J. Davis to the free-throw line with 0.3 seconds left, making the final score 73-66.

Love finished with 30 points and the Bruins could not hit enough shots to overcome his surge.


Armando Bacot tips in offensive rebound to give UNC five-point lead

North Carolina is hitting the gas as UCLA is stalling late in their Sweet 16 matchup.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. missed a jumper inside with UCLA down three and the Bruins chose not to foul.

Armando Bacot tipped in a missed shot to give the Tar Heels a 69-64 lead with 22 seconds left.

Tyger Campbell quickly went coast-to-coast for a layup after a timeout.

UNC will get the ball up 69-66 with 9.6 seconds left.


Caleb Love gives North Carolina lead in final minute

Caleb Love has hit back-to-back three-pointers to erase UCLA’s lead and give UNC a commanding 67-64 lead with 58 seconds left.

The second came off a tough save of a ball out of bounds.

Fatigue clearly is a factor for UCLA, with Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. missing shots.


Jules Bernard keeps hitting big shots

Johnny Juzang remains inconsistent from long range. After an errant Juzang shot, Jules Bernard got the offensive rebound, stepped back with a brush off to create space and hit a jumper that gave UCLA back the lead.

A tie ball on the other end of the floor triggered a quick timeout. UNC will have possession after the break.

UCLA leads UNC 62-61 with 3:16 left in the second half of a battle for an Elite Eight bid.


Long-range misses set up UNC run

Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Johnny Juzang have missed back-to-back three-pointers as UCLA coach Mick Cronin urged his team to run its half-court offense when they don’t have an open look in transition.

The errant shots eventually gave North Carolina a chance to erase a four-point deficit, with Brady Manek hitting an open three-pointer to give the Tar Heels a 61-60 lead with 4:16 left in the first half.

Cronin then called a timeout to settle his team.


UCLA pushes to counter Caleb Love scoring surge

UCLA went on a 6-0 run after the official timeout at the 10:35 mark.

Johnny Juzang has heated up, adding two jumper, and Jules Bernard hit a layup for the Bruins.

Caleb Love has heated up with a jumper and three-pointer to tie the game. Love has 22 points so far this game.

UCLA’s Tyger Campbell responded by scoring inside to give the Bruins a 58-56 lead with 7:06 left in the first half.


UCLA and North Carolina trade baskets during entertaining stretch

North Carolina and UCLA delivered an entertaining two-minute stretch, matching each other shot for shot and trading the lead back and forth.

The Bruins got an important three-pointer from Johnny Juzang after he struggled to convert shots early in the second half. But UCLA really needed a lift from everyone the floor to counter the UNC scoring surge.

UCLA leads 52-51 with 10:32 left in the second half.


UCLA reclaims the lead after brief North Carolina surge

North Carolina earned the lead after earning a pair of open looks at rim.

Jules Bernard countered with a three-pointer that North Carolina matched.

But UCLA’s defense helped it eventually push back ahead.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. deflected a pass and pushed to turn into a dunk. Jaquez continues to show no signs of trouble after hurting his ankle against Saint Mary’s.

UCLA leads North Carolina 42-37 with 15:38 left in the second half.


Second half under way

UCLA and North Carolina both scored out of half-court offensive sets to open the second half.

UCLA leads UNC 33-30 with 19:05 left in the second half.


Who will earn the right to face Saint Peter’s?

Daryl Banks III scored the tying and go-ahead baskets that pushed 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s to the verge of the Final Four, the tiny Peacocks thriving off a home-court edge to beat third-seeded Purdue 67-64 on Friday night in Philadelphia.

The Peacocks (22-11) became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight, adding the Boilermakers to their NCAA tournament string of upsets, and will face either No. 4 seed UCLA or No. 8 seed North Carolina in the East Regional final Sunday.

Saint Peter’s had the fans inside the packed Wells Fargo Center on its side from the opening tip, and the arena erupted when Banks tied the score at 57 on a turnaround jumper. He hit a driving layup with 2:17 left that made it 59-57.

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Bruins have work to do on the boards

UCLA is fortunate to hold a narrow halftime lead after giving up eight offensive rebounds. The Bruins have been stronger on balls that fall closer to the baseline, but they’ve struggled to corral anything that bounces long toward the paint.

North Carolina does own a size advantage, but the 12-0 second-chance points disparity is a problem sure to be discussed by Bruins coach Mick Cronin at halftime.

Johnny Juzang has also been quiet after an early surge. The Bruins guard was electric last NCAA tournament and is still putting the ball up with confidence, but he’s long shifted away from being automatic.

Jules Bernard (9 points), Jaime Jaquez Jr. (8 points), Tyger Campbell (7 points) and Juzang (7 points) have given the Bruins a scoring boost at various times during the first half.

Brady Manek is the only Tar Heel in double figures with 10 points, while Armando Bacot has six and R.J. Davis has five.


UCLA snaps four-minute drought

Jaime Jaquez Jr. hit a turnaround jumper inside to break up a four-minute UCLA scoring drought.

Tyger Campbell then forced a turnover to give UCLA the ball with less than a minute remaining.

Jaquez missed a long jumper, UNC missed a three-pointer and couldn’t put up another shot before time expired.

UCLA leads North Carolina 31-28 at the half.


UNC trims UCLA’s lead

North Carolina hit a pair of three-pointers and it took a Jules Bernard jumper to slow the Tar Heels’ run. Bernard has seven points for UCLA.

The Tar Heels’ offensive rebounding remains a problem for the Bruins, who give up size and are also struggling to corral long bounces off the rim. Brady Manek notably dunked an offensive rebound to slice UCLA’s lead to two points.

The Bruins hold a 26-24 advantage with 3:23 left in the first half.


UCLA goes on an 8-0 run

UCLA’s 8-0 was broken up by a UNC jumper by R.J. Davis at the 8:16 mark.

The Bruins’ were scoreless for nearly three minutes, but the team’s defensive pressure forced the Tar Heels into ugly looks and generally out of their comfort zone.

UCLA leads 22-16 with 7:59 left in the first half.


UCLA leads UNC 18-14

Where are the whistles?

It’s been a joy to watch without them. UCLA and North Carolina skipped the under-16 minute timeout with no foul calls or a turnover out of bounds.

UCLA improved its push on the defensive boards and tightened its defensive pressure. Both teams moved the ball well in search of good looks.

Johnny Juzang is off to a strong start with seven points on three-for-three shooting.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. seems to be showing no signs of trouble on his injured ankle, also scoring four early points. He is using an array of post moves to get good looks and is closing out quickly on perimeter defense.

Jules Bernard has chipped in five points, with some of those points neutralizing a strong push by UNC.


And we’re under way

Jaime Jaquez Jr. started for the Bruins as expected despite an ankle injury sustained against Saint Mary’s.

North Carolina scored first, with UCLA quickly countering with a matching three-pointer.

The Tar Heels have grabbed some offensive boards that give them an 8-5 edge with 17 minutes left in the first half.


If it’s the last run for this special UCLA team, the Bruins want to make it a marathon

UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr., Tyger Campbell, Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard react during a news conference
UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr., from left, Tyger Campbell, Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard react during an NCAA tournament news conference on Thursday.
(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

PHILADELPHIA — If you watch it closely before tipoff, you can begin to understand why Mick Cronin wanted to keep this team intact as long as possible.

You can hear the Bruins’ devotion to one another in the way they roar after Tyger Campbell throws a between-the-legs lob off the backboard to Jaime Jaquez Jr. for a rim-rattling dunk as part of a pregame tradition.

You can see it in the way David Singleton playfully bounces off his teammates’ bodies after delivering a stream-of-consciousness speech in the hype huddle.

You can feel it in the way they lock arms around each other’s shoulders, no one wanting to budge.

Cronin could recruit more highly ranked prospects, have better teams, win more games at UCLA.

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Plaschke: UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell responds to offensive hair taunts with clutch play

UCLA's Tyger Campbell plays against Abilene Christian on March 23
UCLA’s Tyger Campbell plays against Abilene Christian on March 23, 2021.

The first thing you notice is the hair.

Of course you do. Everybody does. It’s one of the talking points of the NCAA tournament. Reporters have asked about it. Announcers have wondered about it. The cameras are in love with it.

“It’s just my hair to me … it just looks all crazy,” UCLA’s Tyger Campbell said with a chuckle.

It’s crazy spectacular, this wonderous collection of freeform dreadlocks that rise from Campbell’s regal smile like some majestic crown.

He began letting it grow when he was 11 because he hated getting haircuts. He later decided he wanted to express himself through dreds, and his parents acquiesced in exchange for a guarantee that he would not express himself through tattoos. Today his skin is free of script, and he has had exactly one haircut in the last decade.

“I’ve had it for so long, I don’t really look at it like a big deal,” Campbell said.

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How Jaime Jaquez Jr. became the UCLA Bruins’ toughest player

UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. drives between Arizona's Oumar Ballo and Arizona's Pelle Larsson.
UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) drives through Arizona’s Oumar Ballo, left, and Arizona’s Pelle Larsson (3) during the Pac-12 tournament championship March 12.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

PHILADELPHIA — The animated voice belonged to a freshman guard who had never started and rarely contributed before that day, going scoreless in four of his first six college games.

He announced to his teammates, in full-throated terms, that they needed to compete. Be more physical. Rebound. Do whatever it took to beat Michigan State.

“I mean, I just really want to win more than anything,” Jaime Jaquez Jr. said in a breezeway outside the Lahaina Civic Center in November 2019 while explaining his spontaneous speech during UCLA’s game at the Maui Invitational. “I guess wanting to win is my competitive fire and I was just born with it.”

Right, there was that lineage to consider.

His father, who doubled as his youth coach, did not spare him from the harsh critiques he might hear at higher levels, preparing him for the possibility of playing for someone like the fractious Bob Knight. His mother, once an All-American at Concordia University in Irvine, was known for never backing down, players from the men’s team asking her to join them for pickup games.

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