Stephen F. Austin (32-2) vs. UCLA (27-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 23, 7:10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Viejas Arena (12,414) -- San Diego, California. Television: TBS. NCAA Tournament Record: SFA 1-1, UCLA 100-38. Series Record: UCLA leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: After recording an improbable come-from-behind victory in their tournament opener, the 12th-seeded Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks will try to keep their Cinderella run alive on Sunday when they tangle with the fourth- seeded UCLA Bruins in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at Viejas Arena.
SFA (32-2) appeared dead in the water trailing VCU by 10 with just over three minutes remaining but climbed all the way back to tie with only five seconds left in regulation after Desmond Haymon converted a four-point play, and Haymon connected on the game-winning 3-pointer with 2:03 left in overtime as well as the team captured the 77-75 victory. It was the Lumberjacks' first- ever NCAA Tournament win and they have now won 29 straight games.
UCLA had a much easier time advancing to the Round of 32, as it dismissed 13th-seeded Tulsa in the second round, 76-59, for the program's 100th NCAA Tournament win. The Bruins are 27-8 and are on a roll with four straight wins after defeating three NCAA Tournament-qualifying teams (Oregon, Stanford, Arizona) en route to the Pac-12 Tournament title last week.
UCLA defeated SFA in the only previous meeting between the squads.
The Lumberjacks held a 10-point lead early in the second half until VCU ran off a 30-10 run to take control, but thanks to one part perseverance on their end and one part collapse by VCU, they captured the thrilling two-point victory. They shot a lofty 52.9 percent from the field, which helped overcome a game-high 17 turnovers. Jacob Parker led they way with 22 points, Haymon finished with 17 points and Thomas Walkup tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
On the season, SFA's offensive attack has been stellar, making an impressive 46.6 percent of its field goal attempts for 76.5 ppg, and while its field goal percentage defense hasn't been great (.451), it only allows 63.0 ppg on the other end of the floor by boasting the nation's sixth-best turnover margin (+4.9). Parker and Haymon are dead even for the scoring lead with 14.4 ppg apiece, with Parker doing so on 54.7 percent field-goal shooting, while adding 7.0 rpg. Rounding out the balanced attack are Walkup (12.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Deshaunt Walker (11.8 ppg) and Nikola Gajic (9.6 ppg).
The Bruins carried just a five-point lead into intermission in their second- round bout but never relinquished that advantage in the second stanza, using a 17-2 run late in the frame to pull away. They outshot the Golden Hurricane from the floor, 46 percent to 36.8 percent, and scored 21 points off of 16 forced turnovers. Jordan Adams poured in 21 points and ripped down eight rebounds, while Norman Powell netted 15 points. Tony Parker (11 points), Travis Wear (10 points) and Kyle Anderson (eight points, six rebounds, six assists, four steals, two blocks) were also stellar.
UCLA has leaned on its outstanding offense all season long, as it ranks in the top-15 nationally in both scoring offense (81.7 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.489), while also knocking down a 38.9 percent of its 3-point tries. It boasts positive margins in terms of rebounding (+2.3) and turnovers (+4.0) as well, all numbers that help mask a modest scoring defense (70.4 ppg). Adams leads the team in scoring with 17.4 ppg with great percentages from the field (.480) and the free-throw line (.842). Anderson (14.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 6.6 apg) contributes all over the floor and is the only player in the nation with at least 10.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg and 6.0 apg. Powell (11.4 ppg) and Zach LaVine (9.8 ppg) are regular contributors too.
SFA's never-say-die attitude was put on display in one of the most exciting finishes of a wild second round, and it certainly has the momentum and the swagger to continue its unlikely run through the tournament. UCLA though, is in peak form right now and ultimately has too much scoring prowess for the Lumberjacks to contend with.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 75, Stephen F. Austin 68
03/23 10:32:50 ET