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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  NCAA basketball

UCLA Bruins beat Cincinnati Bearcats 79-67 to earn Sweet 16 trip

Members of the UCLA basketball team celebrate after the Bruins scored against Cincinnati during the second half of a second-round game of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, March 19, 2017. UCLA won 79-67. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Members of the UCLA basketball team celebrate after the Bruins scored against Cincinnati during the second half of a second-round game of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, March 19, 2017. UCLA won 79-67. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
By John Marshall Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – UCLA had trouble getting its high-octane offense going in the first half against Cincinnati’s big, athletic defenders.

Once the Bruins got rolling, there was no stopping them – all the way into the Sweet 16.

Next up: A blue blood rematch with Kentucky in the South Regional semifinals.

Lonzo Ball scored 19 points and ignited UCLA’s rally from a poor start with nine second-half assists, lifting the third-seeded Bruins to a 79-67 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday in the South Regional.

“I don’t know of a more fun basketball team to watch when we’re clicking and we’ve had a lot of games where we’ve been clicking,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said.

UCLA (31-4) had a hard time solving sixth-seeded Cincinnati’s active defense in the first half, unable to get shots to drop or get out in transition. The Bruins found a new gear in the second half, breaking out for dunks and dropping in strings of 3-pointers to quickly push the lead to double digits.

UCLA had 21 assists and three turnovers, earning its third Sweet 16 appearance in four seasons under Alford, erasing – at least in part – the 15-17 letdown of a year ago.

The Bruins will face No. 2 seed Kentucky in the South Regional semifinals Friday in Memphis. UCLA had one of its biggest wins the past two seasons against the then-top-ranked Wildcats in December, knocking them off 97-92 in Lexington.

“It’s a very, very good basketball team,” Alford said “I think they’re better now in March than they were when we played them in December and I think we’re better than what we were in December as well. Makes for a great matchup.”

Cincinnati (30-6) had no real answer when the Bruins got rolling, falling short of their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2012. UCLA hit 19 of 30 shots in the second half, including 7 of 14 from 3-point range against the Bearcats.

Jarron Cumberland had 15 points to lead Cincinnati.

“Once they got on a roll a little bit, they were running downhill,” Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said. “Fatigue got us. It affected our defense.”

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