Before I get to the UCLA Bruins’ fabulous road win over the Colorado Buffaloes, let me start with the topic on all UCLA fans minds: the NCAA Tournament. As CBS’s David Cobb writes in a story entitled: UCLA vs. Colorado score: Bruins upset No. 18 Buffaloes to continue their remarkable surge after rocky start.
The same UCLA team that lost to Hofstra and Cal State Fullerton has now rattled off five straight Pac-12 victories and is position for a bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Mick Cronin’s first Bruins squad knocked off No. 18 Colorado 70-63 on the road Saturday to come within a game of the conference leaders Arizona and Arizona State. UCLA (17-11, 10-5 Pac-12) has won nine of its last 11 since starting 8-9 overall and 1-3 in the league.
The bye could be especially useful for the Bruins, who entered the weekend ranked 90th in the NET and not on CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm’s NCAA Tournament bubble.
But that could change, Palm said.
”If this hot streak keeps going we could find this team in the bracket eventually,” Palm said. “It’s a remarkable run.”
More on this from NBC’s Rob Dauster in a story entitled: “Bubble Banter: Providence, UCLA, Memphis the day’s biggest winners.”
UCLA (NET: 90, NBC: Off the bubble): The Bruins are making a push to get into the NCAA tournament. On Saturday, they completed a sweet of the mountain schools — the toughest road trip in all of college basketball — and have now won five in a row and nine of their last 11 games. They own a sweep of Colorado (12), they won at Arizona (7) and while they do have a Quad 3 loss — Hofstra (120) — and a Quad 4 loss — Fullerton (269) — the Bruins are now sitting on five Quad 1 wins, three of which came against top 15 teams, two on the road. The metrics don’t love the Bruins, but today’s win will help and if the metrics love Arizona and Colorado this much, it should mean quite a bit that UCLA was able to beat them. Their resume isn’t quite as weird as Providence’s, but both of these teams are going to give the Selection Committee a headache on Selection Sunday.
With games left against Arizona, Arizona State and USC, the Bruins will have the chances to play their way in. It’s wild to think that we’re here after the way the season started, but we are.
Okay, enough talk of bad losses. Let’s turn the focus to an outstanding win. The LA Times’ Ben Bolch focuses on one stat that tells the story of the 70-63 comeback:
This was one instance in which the stats told the story. UCLA notched 14 deflections over the final 13 minutes and went the entire second half without a turnover after committing seven in the first half.
The Daily Bruin’s Sam Connon focuses his story on one of the heroes for UCLA who keyed that “no turnover stat.”
UCLA men’s basketball (17-11, 10-5 Pac-12) came back to take down No. 18 Colorado (21-7, 10-5) 70-63 Saturday afternoon in Boulder. The Bruins were down by nine with 12:34 remaining, but a 16-1 run spearheaded by redshirt freshman guard Tyger Campbell helped them take an eight-point lead with 3:00 to go.
Campbell posted the first double-double of his career with 15 points, 11 assists and just one turnover. The point guard drove and kicked to junior guard Chris Smith with 8:50 left to play, and Smith knocked down his fourth 3-pointer of the game to tie things at 50.
Less than two minutes later, Campbell drilled a 3 of his own to put UCLA ahead for the first time since the first half. Campbell had missed his last nine 3-pointers dating back to Feb. 13 and was shooting 27.8% from long range on the season, but his stroke gave the Bruins a lead they would hold onto for the remainder of the game.
Four of Campbell’s eight second-half assists went to redshirt sophomore forward Cody Riley, who scored in double figures for the fourth time in his last six games. Riley scored 14 points in the second half alone, all of which came from under the basket.
Bolch points out that this is a team effort.
It took a teamwide effort. Freshman shooting guard Jake Kyman made two three-pointers off the bench in the first half for the Bruins. Freshman point guard Tyger Campbell logged a career-high 11 assists while thriving in the pick and roll. Sophomore forward Cody Riley made an impressive array of moves around the basket on the way to a team-high 16 points.
What does this all mean? Forget the NCAA tournament for a second. This UCLA team is playing at an elite level right now. The last word goes to David Woods at Bruin Report Online in a story entitled: Tougher Than The Rest
The obvious thing watching the game was that, clearly, this UCLA team that’s playing right now is an NCAA Tournament team. Beyond that, I would have a very hard time being convinced there are 15 teams better than this UCLA team right now. At 9-2 over the last 11, with two wins over Colorado and one over Arizona, the Bruins should be strongly considered for an NCAA Tournament berth.
We should be ranked in the Top 25 which has always been a what-have-you-done-recently- poll. As Woods says, UCLA is playing as well as any team in the country now.