PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Caleb Love hit the game 3 points clear for a go-ahead for 3 points, and North Carolina moved closer to a win of its 21st Final Four, defeating UCLA 73-66 in a March Madness matchup Friday night of the power programs .
Love, a sophomore, finished with a career-high 30 points, including six 3s and two crucial free throws, with 7.8 seconds left. He scored 27 of Carolina’s 45 second-half points, a hot streak that began after he switched shoes at halftime.
North Carolina’s next game comes Sunday against Saint Peter’s in a unique 8-on-15 matchup in the Elite Eight. The 15th-seeded Peacocks surpassed Purdue 67-64 earlier in the evening.
Equally enticing, the Tar Heels and arch-rival Duke, who play Arkansas on Saturday, are each just one win away from a matchup at the Final Four in New Orleans next weekend. The teams have never played each other in the NCAA tournament.
No one stood out more in Philly over five hours of basketball than Love, who was held down on five points in last week’s win over Baylor but managed to gain a point in the crucial 37 seconds. His starting shot 3 came with a lead of 1:03 and marked the last of 14 lead changes in the game, which was also played eight times in a draw.
Fourth-placed UCLA (27-8) were two wins short of their 20th Final Four. Last year’s trip to the national semifinals ended with a shot from Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs from near half-court. This time Love made it with the Bruins, who took 16 points from Jules Bernard and 15 from Tyger Campbell.
In their second-round win over Baylor, the Tar Heels squandered a 25-point lead only to pull things together and end the game in overtime.
This game got tricky when Brady Manek was thrown for an accidental elbow throw. Manek played all but two minutes in that game, finishing with 13 points.
Armando Bacot had 14 points and 15 rebounds for North Carolina, the most important of which came when he tapped in a miss from RJ Davis with 15 seconds left to extend Carolina’s lead to five points – the widest it had been up to that point .
But that game, especially the second half, belonged to Love, who immediately heated up as he emerged from the dressing room with fresh sneakers. He scored seven of North Carolina’s first 12 points at halftime, then, when the game was tied at 44, he scored 10 in a row for the Tar Heels.
These included a pair of twisted, practically non-looking layups and an NBA-range 3-pointer. He followed with a heat check 3 that was elbow jacked under pressure. It missed him, but that didn’t stop him.
In a rarity for the NCAA tournament, or any basketball game played outside of a playground, teams went exactly 9 full minutes early without a single whistle stopping the game.
UCLA was leading 18-14 at that point. Then, unfortunately, reality hit with two TV timeouts in the ensuing 29 seconds of action.
UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. played all but two minutes despite spraining his ankle against Saint Mary’s last week. He had 10 points and five rebounds but shot 1 for 11 in the second half.
This was North Carolina’s 129th win of the tournament, tying Kentucky for the all-time lead
https://www.cbs17.com/sports/unc/unc-upsets-ucla-73-66-to-advance-in-ncaa-tournament/ UNC upset UCLA 73-66 to advance to Elite Eight in NCAA Tournament