MINNEAPOLIS -- The UCLA Bruins probably haven't looked this dominant since guys named Alcindor and Walton were wearing blue and gold.
The Bruins' late-season roll reached its peak as UCLA put on a stunning offensive display in a 105-70 victory over Maryland Saturday night in the Midwest Regional.
UCLA, which barely made the tournament field after a 19-11 regular season, won its eighth straight game and advanced to the round of 16 to face Iowa State next week.
Earl Watson had 17 points and a school-record 16 assists as the sixth-seeded Bruins connected on six fearsome alley-oops, a school-record 14 3-pointers and absolutely everything in between. Spectacular plays began to pile up as UCLA embarrassed the third-seeded Terrapins' ACC-best defense.
Watson, heavily criticized earlier this season for his point guard play, answered all of his detractors with a dominant performance that awed the Metrodome crowd and his teammates alike. His assists also set a Midwest Regional record and tied the NCAA tournament record for assists in a first- or second-round game.
The Bruins closed the first half with a 22-7 run and made a 16-2 run to start the second half, going up 76-41 just seven minutes after halftime. UCLA shot 74 percent before the final minutes and also played impressive defense, limiting Juan Dixon to 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting.
Maryland coach Gary Williams took three timeouts before the first TV timeout of the second half in a vain attempt to slow down Watson and the Bruins. But UCLA's unstoppable run was led by Watson, who had consecutive 3-pointers and a dunk on an alley-oop from Jason Kapono.
Watson finished with five 3-pointers and four steals. Jerome Moiso and JaRon Rush had 14 points apiece for UCLA, while Dan Gadzuric added 13 and Kapono 11. Every Bruin in uniform scored; Moiso, Gadzuric and Watson were a combined 18-of-21 from the field.
Lonnie Baxter had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Terrapins, who spent most of the second half on their bench in shock. Maryland failed to reach the round of 16 for just the third time in the last seven seasons, while UCLA advanced to that round for the third time in Steve Lavin's four years at the school.
UCLA's 14 3-pointers beat the school record of 12 set three weeks ago in the Bruins' upset of top-ranked Stanford. Watson's 16 assists -- 12 of which came before halftime -- beat the UCLA record of 15 set by Darrick Martin in 1991.
The Bruins opened the game hot, hitting six of their first eight shots and jumping to a 14-2 lead. In a sequence that was a harbinger of things to come, Watson blocked a breakaway layup attempt by Maryland's Jason Blake, got the ball back and threw a halfcourt alley-oop pass to Moiso, who dunked it.
Maryland came right back with its own 11-2 run and briefly kept the game close with five 3-pointers in the first half. But Watson hooked up with Rush for two more ferocious alley-oops that started UCLA's big run to close the half.
Maryland looked helpless as the exuberant, confident Bruins put on a display reminiscent of Jerry Tarkanian's loaded UNLV squads of the early 1990s. On each of the Bruins' trips down the floor, the fans buzzed with anticipation over what acrobatic feat UCLA would pull off next.
Moiso had nine rebounds and three blocked shots for UCLA.
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us