UCLA guard Johnny Juzang had to watch his team from the bench as the Bruins survived an overtime thriller to reach the Elite Eight. On Tuesday, the Bruins’ star player took advantage of being back in the lineup – scoring 28 points while fighting off an ankle injury – to help carry upstart UCLA past No. 1 seed Michigan 51-49.
The Bruins, an 11 seed, reached the Final Four for the first time since 2008. They are the fifth No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four, joining Loyola Chicago (2018), Virginia Commonwealth (2011), George Mason (2006) and LSU (1986).
UCLA knocked out the East Region’s top seed following a similar blueprint that led to four previous wins in this NCAA Tournament: Toughness. Coach Mick Cronin’s gritty group was taking charges, forcing turnovers and making the game against Michigan a complete rock fight. The Bruins went from the First Four – as a bubble team – to the Final Four in one of the most improbable March Madness runs in recent memory.
VCU is the only other team to advance from the First Four to the national semifinals.
Juzang’s jumper with 1:05 left gave UCLA a 50-47 edge and his free throw with six seconds left sealed the win. Point guard Tyler Campbell had 11 points.
“We’ve had our ups and downs during the season, but it’s such a beautiful thing, the way that we have come together for this postseason,” Juzang said after the game. “It’s just a feeling of everybody’s just so unified. It’s like one unit, and we’re just all sharing in…