Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 17 points and UCLA got off to a fast start and never looked back in an 86-53 victory over UNC Asheville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
The second-seeded Bruins (30-5) scored the first 14 points of the game and continued from there. Amari Bailey also scored 17 points and David Singleton had 11.
UCLA advanced to play seventh-seeded Northwestern in the West Region second round. The Wildcats beat Boise State 75-67 earlier in the day.
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Drew Pember scored 13 points for the 15th-seeded Bulldogs (27-8). UNC Asheville, which won the regular season and Big South tournament titles, has now lost all five times the school has advanced to the round. of 64.
Apparently, the Bruins figured out what happened earlier in the day at this site when Pac-12 No. 2 seed Arizona was thrown out by Princeton 59-55.
UCLA made sure this game was never in doubt, hitting its first five shots and taking a 14-0 lead on Singleton’s 3-pointer just 3:06 into the game.
Jáquez scored inside to give the Bruins their biggest lead of the first half at 34-11 and they went from there.
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UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs came into the game riding a nine-game winning streak and carrying a school record 27 wins, but were once again outclassed against a major opponent. Four of their five losses in the tournament’s first round have been by at least 20 points, and their only close game was a 72-65 loss to Syracuse in 2012.
UCLA: The injuries that hit the Bruins in the Pac-12 tournament didn’t hurt them in this game. Defensive stop Jaylen Clark (Achilles) is out for the season and rookie center Adem Bona sat out for the second straight game with a shoulder injury. Bona could return for the second round.
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With a win on Saturday, the Bruins will advance to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season for the first time since 2006-08, when they reached the Final Four each year.