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UCLA nearly wastes double-digit lead, holds on to top MSU

Mar 18, 2011 - 5:24 AM Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt both finished with 16 points, as UCLA held on to edge Michigan State, 78-76, in their second-round NCAA Tournament matchup.

The Bruins led by 23 points with a little under nine minutes to play, but Michigan State made shot after shot down the stretch to whittle down its deficit. By the time Keith Appling drilled a three-pointer with 4.4 seconds left, UCLA's lead was down to 77-76.

After Lee made the first of two free throws for the Bruins, he missed the second, forcing the Spartans to scramble for a final shot. They didn't end up getting one, as Kalin Lucas was called for traveling while about to dribble into a triple-team.

"You know, I didn't have a good view, and it was going to be a prayer anyway," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. "I don't think it had anything to do with the final outcome."

UCLA (23-10), seeded seventh in the Southeast Region, held on for the 100th NCAA tourney win in program history and advanced to face Florida in the third round on Saturday. The second-seeded Gators blew out UC Santa Barbara earlier Thursday.

Draymond Green led the 10th-seeded Spartans (19-15) with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Michigan State had not lost in the NCAA tourney's round of 64 since 2006.

"It's been a year that I'll never forget for a lot of reasons, and it's kind of a fitting way to end, because I've been telling these guys all year, we've just got to keep battling back," Izzo said. "Where some people have just fallen off the face of the earth with one of these seasons, we didn't."

UCLA, which is back in the tourney after last year's absence, held a 64-41 lead with 8:35 left after Brendan Lane sank consecutive jumpers.

But Green and Lucas answered with layups to start Michigan State's big comeback. They followed by each drilling a three-pointer, slashing the Spartans' deficit to 13.

A potential comeback became more attainable after Durrell Summers connected from beyond the arc with a little more than four minutes left, bringing MSU within 67-59.

However, UCLA made crucial free throws in the ensuing minutes to maintain its margin. While the Spartans were still scoring, they weren't making up ground as the precious minutes melted away, and their deficit was still 10 with just over a minute to play.

But Lucas canned a three-pointer with 1:05 left, and after the Bruins turned the ball over on the following inbound, Appling cut to the right side of the arc, accepted a handoff and sank the long-distance shot.

Suddenly, Michigan State was within 76-72 with 48.9 seconds remaining and UCLA's Lazeric Jones at the line.

Jones made a close finish more possible by missing both free throws, and Lee was called for a blocking foul on Lucas at the other end. Lucas made the first but missed the second, and the Bruins' Reeves Nelson grabbed the rebound before being fouled. Nelson also made 1-of-2.

UCLA appeared to have secured the win after an extended Michigan State possession that ended with Green missing a three, but Honeycutt also missed two foul shots, leading to Appling's make and the hectic finish.

"We knew they'd make runs at us," said UCLA head coach Ben Howland. "Their team is too good, and they have too much toughness. You have to credit them the way they fought back and clawed back into it."

The Bruins never trailed after scoring the game's first seven points, and expanded their lead with several bursts.

Late in the first half, they used an eight-point run to push their lead to 26-11. Lee fueled the rally with a layup and two free throws.

UCLA then carried a 42-24 advantage into the break after scoring the final seven points of the period.

Michigan State drew within 49-39 with about 13 minutes left in the second half, but the Bruins followed with a 15-2 run capped by Lane's jumpers.

Game Notes

UCLA has won at least one game in five consecutive NCAA tourney appearances...Joshua Smith finished with 14 points for the Bruins, while Nelson ended with 12 points and 10 rebounds...Summers had 15 points, while Lucas and Delvon Roe both scored 11. Lucas, however, shot only 4-of-14.