Tech now faces Gonzaga Saturday in the second-round game. This win marks the Red Raiders' second such season extension in a row as well. Gonzaga eliminated Winthrop 74-64 in the first round to set up the match.
UCLA's 17-12 season wasn't exactly a Cinderella story, but the Bruins have risen anew in the Pac-10 conference; their at-large bid to the NCAA tournament marked their first appearance there since 2002. They last won a national championship exactly 10 years ago, but a return to the glory of a deep tournament run just wasn't in the cards for Ben Howard's gutsy squad of youngsters. Seeded 11th in the tournament, they were not expected to outplay the Red Raiders, but they came within reach repeatedly before the waning minutes of the game.
Bruin Dijon Thompson, UCLA's steady senior starter, led his squad with 22 points, followed by freshman Josh Ship with 13; classmate Jordan Farmar had a career-mark of a night, from the disastrous end. He hit but one shot in the game – a trey among five he tried – and clanged eight from the field and both attempts from the charity stripe. He also managed a spectacular foul when he almost got himself planted in the path of a hard-driving Ross during the second half only to end up not just flattened but to blame for the collision.
Texas Tech got 16 of Jarrius Jackson's 19 points in the second half; Devonne Giles contributed another 16 points for the Red Raiders, shooting seven-of-eight on the night while pulling down nine rebounds. Damir Suljagic kicked in a pair during the last minute of the first half to put Tech ahead, 37-31 at the break. The Raiders scored first and ran out to an 8-0 lead but the Bruins refused to surrender, tying the game four times before intermission.
Back-to-back treys by Brian Morrison and Thompson appeared to have canned the Raiders' momentum, but Darryl Dora slammed a basket home to interrupt the six-nothing run at the 17:15 mark. Tech led 45-36 after that and never looked back, although UCLA cut the lead to five a final time.
With 6:30 left, UCLA's Arron Afflalo drew the foul while trying a three-point shot; all three of his free throws arced through the rim as though drawn by invisible wires.
Tech's Ross put up his own attempt from three-point country only to have it rocket roof- ward -- until Devonne Giles made a ballet-like move to tip the high carom back through the net; Jackson next sank a shot from 18 feet and Tech pulled away steadily through the remainder of the game.
For the Bruins, Michael Fey scored eight points and snagged a board; Thompson's 22 points came with six rebounds; Shipp snagged eight boards to go with 13 points; Afflalo managed seven points on one-of-four shooting from the floor and five-of-six from the charity stripe, while Farmar – recovered from his collision with Ross -- finished with three points and five boards. Ryan Hollins collected four rebounds and contributed eight points, and Brian Morrison brought the Bruins three boards and five points.
UCLA shooters made 26 of 58 attempts, including six treys in 21 tries; Bruin charity shooters knocked down eight of 15 and pulled 26 rebounds out of the air, eight offensive and 18 defensive; a baker's dozen points were poured in off the Bruin bench.
Devonne Giles fouled out after scoring 16 points, and added a T to his record; he collected eight rebounds and blocked two shots. Martin Zeno contributed four points and four boards to Tech's win, and Suljagic added four points. Jackson finished with 19 points and four boards, while Ross collected seven rebounds.
Curtis Marshall made a brief appearance in the first half but missed the only shot he took. Tech hit 32 of 55 from the floor, three of seven from beyond the arc – and had one trey reduced to a deuce on official review – sank 11 of 16 charity shots and yanked down 29 rebounds: three offensive and 26 defensive. The Red Raiders got seven points off the bench.
Gonzaga shot 45% from the field in the win that set up their match with the Red Raiders Saturday. Adam Morrison led all scorers in the match with 27 points. The Bulldogs, who have never met a Red Raider team coached by Bobby Knight, boast former Techsan Nathan Doudney, although a season-ending knee injury benched him Dec. 7. Doudney, who played two years for Knight at Tech, transferred to Gonzaga last season where, as NCAA rules require, he sat out.
The Bulldogs earned their second-best seed in the NCAA – where they're making their seventh straight appearance – with a three this year. Last year they were a No. 2 seed. Bulldog victories this year amounted to a West Coast Conference regular season-championship; they faced Big South Conference tournament champions Winthrop. Gonzaga's record rises to 25-4 with the win.