Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Sport | By Stephen Hansen

March Madness: UCLA advances against tougher-than-expected Kent State

March Madness: UCLA advances against tougher-than-expected Kent State

He's becoming not only known for his flashy play, but the talk of his father, LaVar Ball.

"If you lose, you're done until next year, so that makes it a lot more pressure on you", Leaf said.

By virtue of winning the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament with a 70-65 victory over the Akron Zips, Kent State earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Josh Jackson insisted a season's worth of distractions wouldn't take away from his focus in his first, and likely last, NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, Kent State had sneaked its way back to within eight points of the Bruins at intermission.

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On a day of upsets in the NCAA Tournament - namely over No. 6 seeds - Kent State was hoping to pull off the biggest one of the tournament. Another factor that should give the Bruins and their fans a pause is they have never faced the opponent they are set to square off against in Sacramento, the Kent State Golden Flashes. Forgoing a shot, Holiday whipped a pass to the corner and T.J. Leaf, who buried the open 3-pointer. But the Golden Flashes finished the season by reeling off nine of 10. By the time halftime arrived, Kent State was back within striking distance, down 47-39. "Not the players. I love Steve Alford". "Our shot selection wasn't the best".

Three teams out of the 68-team field scored 100 points or more in the tournament's first round: Kansas and North Carolina, the respective No. 1 seeds in the Midwest and South regions, and Arizona, the No. 2 seed in the West. The Flashes can't keep pace with the Bruins and UCLA will be eager to put on a show following a loss to Arizona. "Don't think it's anything we've got to worry about". (UCLA is) a good team, tremendous offensive team.

Ball passed Larry Drew II's previous program mark of 256 by one after recording three against Kent State. But they were only ahead by eight at halftime, their infamously suspect defense had issues, and concerned eyes will be following star freshman point guard Lonzo Ball after he fell hard in the first half and landed on his right hip. He was limping after the fall, but stayed in the game and was in the starting lineup in the second half. "I was just looking at Gary [Clark] and I told Troy [Caupain] before the game 'I'm following your lead'".

UCLA should use this game as a major confidence boost and a building block going forward in the tournament.

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