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UCLA pulls away for 97-80 win over Kent State

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    UCLA pulls away for 97-80 win over Kent State

Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

UCLA’s Lonzo Ball squares up against Kent State’s Jon Fleming in Sacramento.
UCLA’s Lonzo Ball squares up against Kent State’s Jon Fleming in Sacramento.

Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Justin Jackson (44) and the rest of the Tar Heels bask in their easy win over Texas Southern.
Justin Jackson (44) and the rest of the Tar Heels bask in their easy win over Texas Southern.

Photo: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

UCLA pulls away for 97-80 win over Kent State

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TJ Leaf scored 23 points, Thomas Welsh added 16 and UCLA pulled away late for a 97-80 victory over scrappy Kent State on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament South Regional in Sacramento.

UCLA (30-4) jumped out to a 14-point lead in the opening minutes, only to have its defensive issues rise again. The third-seeded Bruins had numerous breakdowns and let Kent State claw back into it by halftime before eventually stretching the lead midway through the second half.

Lonzo Ball and Aaron Holiday each had 15 points for UCLA, which will face No. 6 seed Cincinnati in the second round Sunday.

Kent State (22-14) appeared shell-shocked in its first NCAA Tournament since 2008, falling into a deep early hole. The Golden Flashes, who beat the top three seeds at the MAC tournament, showed a bit of resiliency by fighting back, keeping the Bruins close until late. Jaylin Walker had 23 points and Jimmy Hall Jr. added 20 for Kent State.

Cincinnati 75, Kansas St. 61: Also in Sacramento, Troy Caupain scored 23 points, and Kyle Washington added 16 for the sixth-seeded Bearcats (30-5). No. 6 seeds were 0-3 before the Bearcats took the floor, with Maryland, Creighton and SMU all losing to No. 11 seeds. But Cincinnati shot 62 percent and clamped down on defense, preventing the Wildcats (21-14) from making much of a run after the Bearcats built a 17-point lead.

North Carolina 103, Texas Southern 64: In Greenville, S.C., Justin Jackson broke out of a shooting slump with 21 points to help the top-seeded Tar Heels (28-7) roll past the 16th-seeded Tigers (23-12). The ACC Player of the Year had made just 20 of 60 shots (33 percent) and 7 of 31 three-point attempts (23 percent) in his previous four games. But he had 19 points by halftime in this one.

Arkansas 77, Seton Hall 71: Also in Greenville, Jaylen Barford, who scored 20 points, hit the go-ahead layup with 57.8 seconds left to help the eighth-seeded Razorbacks (26-9) hold off the ninth-seeded Pirates (21-12). Khadeen Carrington had 22 points to lead Seton Hall, which had a 15-3 run to take a 64-56 lead with 8:41 left, but was hurt by mistakes down the stretch. The Pirates had 15 turnovers — including two straight around Barford’s layup — to deny their pursuit of a first NCAA Tournament win since 2004.

Kentucky 79, Northern Kentucky 70: In Indianapolis, Bam Adebayo had 15 points and 18 rebounds as the second-seeded Wildcats (30-5) showed the new kids on their block how it’s done at NCAA Tournament time. They also wound up with a surprisingly close finish after pulling ahead by 18 points in the second half. The Norse (24-11) closed to 75-68 on Drew McDonald’s three-pointer with 35 seconds left. Malik Monk made four free throws to close it out. Northern Kentucky reached the tournament in its first year of eligibility, only the seventh team to do so since 1970.

Wichita St. 64, Dayton 58: Also in Indianapolis, the 10th-seeded Shockers (31-4) won their 16th in a row — the second-longest streak in school history — by clamping down on defense and swatting away shots down the stretch. Wichita State blocked eight shots and held the seventh-seeded Flyers (24-8) to a season-low 31 percent shooting.

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