SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 17 points and UCLA raced out to a fast start and never looked back in a 86-53 victory over UNC Asheville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
The second-seeded Bruins (30-5) scored the first 14 points of the game and rolled from there. Amari Bailey also scored 17 points and David Singleton had 11.
UCLA advanced to play seventh-seeded Northwestern in the second round of the West Region. The Wildcats beat Boise State 75-67 earlier in the day.
Drew Pember scored 13 points for the 15th-seeded Bulldogs (27-8). UNC Asheville, which won the Big South regular-season and tournament titles, has now lost all five times the school has advanced to the round of 64.
The Bruins apparently took notice of what happened earlier in the day at this site when fellow Pac-12 No. 2 seed Arizona was ousted by Princeton 59-55.
UCLA made sure this game was never in doubt, making its first five shots and taking a 14-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Singleton just 3:06 into the game.
Jaquez scored inside to give the Bruins their biggest lead of the first half at 34-11 and they coasted from there.
UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs came into the game on a nine-game winning streak and with a school-record 27 wins but were once again overmatched against a major opponent. Four of their five losses in the first round of the tournament have come by at least 20 points, with their only close game being a 72-65 defeat to Syracuse in 2012.
UCLA: The injuries that hit the Bruins in the Pac-12 tournament didn’t hurt them in this game. Defensive stopper Jaylen Clark (Achilles tendon) is out for the season and freshman big man Adem Bona sat out his second straight game with as shoulder injury. Bona could return for the second round.
With a win on Saturday, the Bruins will advance to the Sweet 16 for a third straight season for the first time since 2006-08, when they went to the Final Four each year.
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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