In the First Four finale pitting two of college hoops’ marquee programs, UCLA outlasted Michigan State 86-80 in overtime Thursday night.
Michigan State’s brief appearance in the tournament was coach Tom Izzo’s 23rd straight, but it was small consolation. He got into a heated exchange with one of his own players — and not for the first time — after what appeared to be a defensive miscommunication on the final play of the first half. When Gabe Brown turned away, Izzo grabbed his arm and then the back of his jersey.
“It was a normal nothing. But in this day and age, everything’s got to be something,” Izzo groaned, then added. “It was over a missed switch that we talked about.”
The Spartans promptly went on to hand back the double-digit lead they held at intermission, yet still led by six points with four minutes left. Then the house fell in. The Bruins Jaime Jaquez Jr., who finished with 27 points, banged in a layup and added the game-tying free throw in regulation. Johnny Juzang hit back-to-back baskets to begin the extra period and UCLA kept its nose in front the rest of the way.
The reward for winning the clash of No. 11 seeds is a short drive to Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Bruins will face No. 6 Brigham Young.