2011 NCAA Tournament Second Round: UCLA Holds Off Desperate Michigan State Comeback, 78-76

The last 10 minutes of tonight’s second-round NCAA Tournament game between the UCLA Bruins and Michigan State Spartans definitely made up for the first 30. The Bruins were cruising for most of the night, fought off one Spartans surge early in the second half, and led by 19 points with 6:30 to play in the game. But then Michigan State got hot from three-point range and made another run to pull within 76-66 with a minute and a half to play.

Then things got really weird. UCLA missed an amazing 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch, keeping Michigan State alive. And when Keith Appling made a three with 4.4 seconds left, the Spartans had cut the lead down to 77-76. After an instant foul, the Bruins’ Malcolm Lee made only one of two free throws, giving Michigan State one last chance. But Adrelan Payne had trouble corralling the rebound, and Kalin Lucas traveled before firing a desperation heave from near midcourt (which missed badly).

Lee and Tyler Honeycutt each scored 16 points for the Bruins, while 305-pound freshman center Joshua Smith was a revelation inside with 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting. For the Spartans, Draymond Green led the way with 23 points. Lucas, who didn’t score in the first half, recovered to score 11 in the second half, but finished only 4-for-15 from the field.

UCLA advances to Saturday’s third round, where they will face the Florida Gators in the second game of the day. West Virginia and Kentucky will meet early Saturday afternoon in a rematch of their 2010 East Regional final, won by the Mountaineers.

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