UCLA staves off Northwestern’s comeback to earn trip to Sweet 16

Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 24 points, and UCLA held off a second-half comeback push from Northwestern sweet 16 With a 68–63 win on Saturday night.

2nd seeded Bruins (31-5) Raised the defensive intensity late, holding the seventh-seeded Wildcats to 1-for-12 shooting during a crucial late-game stretch to seal the win.

The win was marred when David Singleton went down in extreme pain with a right leg injury with 20.3 seconds remaining. He stayed on the court for a few minutes before being helped by teammates and going straight to the locker room. There was no immediate word on the extent of the injury.

UCLA advanced to its third straight Sweet 16 for the first time in 15 years. The Bruins will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Gonzaga and TCU in the West Region semifinals in Las Vegas on Thursday night.


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Dylan Andrews #2 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after a three point basket during the second half against the Northwestern Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 18, 2023 in Sacramento, California. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

Amari Bailey added 14 points for UCLA and Tiger Campbell added 12 points.

Boo Buie scored 18 points to lead Northwestern (22-12), Matthew Nicholson had 17 and Chase Audige scored all 16 of his points in the second half.

The Wildcats ended their second trip to the tournament in the same fashion as the first six years earlier, losing in the second round.

He put up a good fight against the more tournament-tested Bruins and had a chance until he cooled off the field late in the game.

The key moment came in the final two minutes when Adem Bona blocked a drive by the Audis, sending UCLA into transition. David Singleton hit a 3-pointer that put the Bruins ahead 62–56 with 1:50 to play.

UCLA controlled the game early, contesting nearly every shot and neutralizing Northwestern’s high-scoring backcourt of Buie and Audies.

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UCLA players celebrate at the end of their first round college basketball game against UNC Asheville in the Men’s NCAA Tournament on Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)

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Jacquez went on a 12–2 run at the half to build an 11-point lead, getting a steal and dunk, followed by another dunk in transition after a blocked shot by Kenneth Nuba.

Buie scored his first basket of the game with a drive just before the buzzer to cut UCLA’s lead to 35–25 at the break.

After going goalless before the break, the Audis took the lead in the second half with 14 points in the first eight minutes. The Wildcats tied it at 45 when Buie was credited with a basket on a field goal call halfway through.

The game remained close from there till the end.

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Northwestern: The Wildcats Their first tournament appearance followed with losing records for the next five seasons. Coach Chris Collins led them back to second place in the Big Ten in the regular season and is now looking to build from there.

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Amari Bailey #5 and Jaime Jacquez Jr. #24 of the UCLA Bruins react after a score during the second half against the Northwestern Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 18, 2023 in Sacramento. California. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

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UCLA: Bona returns after missing the last two games with a left shoulder injury. He aggravated the injury on a dunk in the second half and immediately went to the bench but returned to the game and made a key block late in the game. His presence will be crucial next weekend.


UCLA is two wins away from its 20th Final Four appearance.

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