End game, Kentucky 86, UCLA 75: This one is over. No. 2 seed Kentucky pulled away from third-seeded UCLA in the second half to move on to the Elite Eight, where it will face No. 1 seed North Carolina in a Midwest Region matchup Sunday at 5:05 p.m. ET.
This game was all about De’Aaron Fox, who finished the night with the game-high 39 points. Malik Monk also had a big game for Kentucky with 21 points. T.J. Leaf and Isaac Hamilton both led UCLA with 17 points, while Lonzo Ball logged 10 points and eight assists.
Second half, 3:46, Kentucky 69, UCLA 58: Kentucky went on an 8-0 run, capped off by a Derek Willis long jumper, to take its biggest lead of the game at 13 points. Barring some sort of late miracle, this one is over.
Second half, 5:54, Kentucky 69, UCLA 58: The Wildcats now have their biggest lead of the game. Timeout UCLA.
Second half, 6:58, Kentucky 66, UCLA 58: The Wildcats’ lead grew to nine on another Malik Monk 3-pointer, but the Bruins went on a mini 5-0 run to close the gap. But Kentucky’s Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis combined for two more 3-pointers.
Second half, 11:49, Kentucky 57, UCLA 51: De’Aaron Fox added five more points to increase his total to 24 points, all of which helped the Wildcats build up another six-point advantage. Bryce Alford is starting to heat up for the Bruins, though, as he has eight points in the second half.
Second half, 15:16, Kentucky 50, UCLA 46: This game is fun. De’Aaron Fox (four points) and Malik Monk (10 points) did all the scoring for the Wildcats before the first TV timeout of the second half, and Kentucky opened a six-point lead multiple times, which was the biggest lead for either team up to that point.
But five different Bruins scored and made sure UCLA remained close.
End first half, Kentucky 36, UCLA 33: What. A. Half. There were 13 combined lead changes, the last of which came on Kentucky’s Isaiah Briscoe’s 3-pointer after the break. Malik Monk then took over with five consecutive points for the Wildcats, three of which came on a 3-pointer from way down town.
But the Bruins refused to go away and kept things close at the break.
UCLA’s T.J. Leaf (13 points, four rebounds) and Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox (15 points) both led the way offensively.
First half, 3:42, UCLA 26, Kentucky 25: Malik Monk finally got on the board with a jumper. And the back-and-forth nature of this one continued, as neither team opened up more than a one-point lead between TV timeouts.
First half, 7:53, UCLA 20, Kentucky 19: There wasn’t a whole lot of scoring between these TV timeouts, but UCLA took back the lead on a thunderous Gyorgy Goloman dunk before the break.
First half, 11:06, Kentucky 17, UCLA 15: Dating back to before the last timeout, Kentucky went on an 8-0 run to take a 14-11 lead, but UCLA quickly responded with four consecutive points before Dominique Hawkins responded with a deep 3-pointer.
First half, 15:26, UCLA 11, Kentucky 8: De’Aaron Fox scored Kentucky’s first eight points, while Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf both made 3-pointers to open the scoring for UCLA. But a Leaf dunk and Thomas Welsh’s old-fashioned 3-point play gave the Bruins the early advantage at the first commercial.
Start first half: It’s time! Kentucky vs. UCLA is underway.
There’s no question the main event of the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 games happens Friday night in the South Region.
National powerhouses Kentucky and UCLA will face off at FedExForum for the right to advance to the Elite Eight, where the winner will face the winner of No. 1 seed North Carolina and fourth-seeded Butler on Sunday.
The second-seeded Wildcats had a tough road to the Sweet 16, as they had to overcome No. 10 seed Wichita State in the Round of 32. The third-seeded Bruins also had a tough matchup in the Round of 32 against No. 6 seed Cincinnati, but Lonzo Ball made sure they made it to the second weekend of March Madness.
This will be the second time the Wildcats and Bruins have faced off this season, as UCLA topped Kentucky on the road 97-92 in a thriller back in December. Hopefully we’ll get another entertaining one Friday night.
Make sure you keep it right here throughout the big game for live updates, highlights and analysis. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:39 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports Images