2021 NCAA Tournament First Four: UCLA stuns Michigan State with huge comeback
Photo: Gregory Shamus

UCLA posted an incredible comeback to defeat Michigan State 86-80 in overtime in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament at Mackey Arena.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored a career-high 27 points and Johnny Juzang added 23 as the Bruins (18-9) erased an 11-point halftime deficit and closed the game on a 14-3 run to advance to a first round game against sixth seed BYU.

Aaron Henry led four Spartans (15-13) in double figures with 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Michigan State shot 55.6 percent from the floor.

UCLA rallies behind Jaquez to stun Michigan State, move on to first round

Michigan State opened the game hitting their first four shots to take a 9-2 lead before UCLA eventually tied it at 15. The Spartans went on a 15-6 run, capped by a jumper from Malik Hall, to go in front 28-21.

Joey Hauser hit a three-pointer to increase the advantage to 40-26 before Jaquez hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer to cut the deficit to 44-33, Michigan State forward Gabe Brown and coach Tom Izzo arguing going into the locker room.

UCLA came out firing, going on a 9-2 run to cut the Michigan State lead to 46-42. Brown hit a layup in transition to bring the Spartans lead back up to 53-45 before Henry and Keith Langford hit shots give Michigan State a 62-55 edge with 7:29 to play.

Jaquez again nailed a shot to bring UCLA within three at 64-62 and Jules Bernard scored on a drive to reduce the lead to 67-66 before Hall scored five of the Spartans next seven points to push the lead back up to 73-67.

Leading 77-72 with 28 seconds left, Michigan State watched as Jaquez pounced on his own rebound after missing the front end of a one-and-one to make it 77-74. A few moments later, Tyger Campbell found Jaquez Jr. down low, and he sunk a layup and hit the game-tying free throw.

Juzang scored the fiirst four points of overtime, putting UCLA up for good after opening the extra session with a post-up layup. He hit a running jumper on the Bruins next possession to make give them an 81-77 lead and Michigan State could never recover.

UCLA post-game comments

Head coach Mick Cronin talked to the media following the game and said "we huddled up at halftime as a coaching staff and tried to turn up the heat defensively in the second half and tried to make them uncomfortable as much as we could.

"The kids responded and I thought our intensity level obviously went way up in the second half defensively. Got a lot of contributions. Obviously Jamie and Johnny put the ball in the basket for us. But obviously a great win and a great game, two storied programs.

"I've got as much for Tom Izzo as anyone in the business. A big win for us."

Michigan State post-game comments

Izzo reflected on what happened, stating "it's just disappointing because we had the game won. We just made some of the same mistakes we made two or three times this year in critical situations.

"We played incredibly well offensively and incredibly poor defensively. Give them a lot of credit, but it seemed like we were in control and didn't rebound the ball like we could have or should have.

"The first half and part of the second we moved the ball so well and really played some good basketball. Made a couple of mistakes right before the half. We were supposed to switch.

"It's a shame because I thought we played some of our best basketball of the year."

Langford added "we just didn't make plays down the stretch. Missing free throws, missed free throw cut-outs. That's kind of been the story for us in a few losses. We knew the margin for us is very slim."