Stephen F. Austin v UCLA

No. 4 UCLA reaches their first Sweet 16 since 2008

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Jordan Adams finished with 19 points, Normal Powell added 16 and Kyle Anderson finished with 15 points, eight boards and five assists as No. 4 UCLA rolled past No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, 77-60.

It will be the first trip for UCLA to the Sweet 16 since 2008. That was the last of three straight Final Four trips for former Bruins head coach Ben Howland, who was let go last season despite winning the Pac-12 title. The Bruins’ brass wanted to win more, especially in March, and it looks like Alford is getting that done.

And if you know anything about Alford’s past, there is some irony there. This is the first time that he has reached the Sweet 16 this century. Seriously. The last time that he was in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament was three jobs ago, when he was the head coach Southwest Missouri State and made a run as a No. 12 seed. He has won as many tournament games this season as he did in the 14 years between Sweet 16 trips.

The Bruins will advance to the Sweet 16, where they will have a date with the overall No. 1 seed, Florida. UCLA will have their work cut out for them in that game, as Florida’s last loss came on Dec. 2nd. They are undefeated with Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin both in the lineup.

The loss was the first for the Lumberjacks in exactly four months, as they had won 29 straight games.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)