Rushed Reactions: #11 UCLA 60, #6 SMU 59

Posted by Walker Carey on March 19th, 2015

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Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. UCLA won the game on a questionable goaltending call. Down 59-57 with 22 seconds to play, UCLA came out of a timeout and ran a play for guard Bryce Alford to take a three. The shot appeared to be an airball, as it was grabbed out of the air by SMU center Yanick Moreira. Very soon after Moreira grabbed the ball, however, the officials called a goaltend on him. The call gave UCLA a 60-59 lead with 13 seconds to play. Going for the win, SMU missed two three-point shot attempts, the buzzer sounded and the Bruins stormed the court to celebrate the victory. Expect this call to be talked about ad nauseam in the coming days, as it really was an important factor in the game’s final outcome.
  2. Bryce Alford and Norman Powell were quite the duo. Both Alford and Powell were terrific throughout the game. Alford finished the game with 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting from three. Each time UCLA needed a basket, it was Alford that stepped up and hit one. While his last three-pointer was controversial, he deserves plenty of credit for putting the ball close enough to the rim for the violation to be called. Powell, Alford’s running mate, showcased his dazzling athleticism on drives to the rim throughout the game. The senior finished with 19 points and six rebounds. It should also be noted that both players demonstrated their endurance by finishing the game with 39 minutes played.
  3. Neither team received much production from their supporting casts. Alford and Powell combined to score 46 of UCLA’s 60 points. No other Bruins player scored more than six points. Guard Nic Moore (24 points) and forward Markus Kennedy (16 points) combined to score 40 of SMU’s 59 points. Like UCLA, no other Mustangs player finished with more than six points. Having your stars play well is important, but not getting much production from the role players is usually a huge negative in the postseason. While UCLA was able to escape with a victory, it will probably need someone other than Alford and Powell to step up to move forward in the bracket.

Player of the Game. Bryce Alford, UCLA. The sophomore guard was the best player on the winning team from the opening tip to the final buzzer. He finished with 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting from deep. On a day where his teammates combined to shoot just 1-of-9 from the perimeter, his hot shooting was instrumental to the victory. Alford has been much critiqued throughout the first two years of his career, but you cannot find anyone who would say he was anything but terrific against SMU.

Quotable.

  • “I have never quite been in a game like that. I have never seen a game end like that.” – SMU coach Larry Brown, discussing the controversial goaltending call.
  • “It is all my fault. I should have let the ball hit the rim. As a senior, you cannot make that mistake at the end of the game.” – Moreira, shouldering the blame for the goaltending call.
  • “I never made nine three-pointers in one game.” – UCLA coach Steve Alford, giving some reference to just how tremendous his son’s performance was.

Sights and Sounds. When this game tipped, the arena was still reeling from the shock of UAB stunning Iowa State. Because to that, there wasn’t much energy in the building until UCLA built its lead to 10 at the 14:45 mark of the second half. From there on out, both teams were fairly well-represented and the energy in the building was great. The goaltend call at the end of the game shocked everyone initially, but the UCLA faithful shook off that feeling and celebrated wildly as the final buzzer sounded.

What’s Next. UCLA advances to the Round of 32 on Saturday where it will face #14 UAB. The two teams have already met once this season. The Bruins topped the Blazers, 88-76, at the Battle 4 Atlantic back in late November.

WCarey (299 Posts)


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