After a dominant second half against Cincinnati in the Round of 32, No. 3 UCLA (31-4) is back in the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years. The Bruins will face No. 2 Kentucky (31-5) in a rematch from the regular season.
UCLA beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena, 97-92, on Dec. 3. Now the Bruins just need to do it again, this time in Memphis with a spot in the Elite Eight up for grabs.
“Before this tournament started, I had my doubts about UCLA beating Kentucky for a second time this season,” Pac-12 Network host Mike Yam said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And look, the beat them at Rupp. They’e actually won two in a row against them if you go back to last year. The game against Kent State in that first round, they didn’t even look that good and they still scored 97 points and they shot over 60 percent from the floor. That’s how good and efficient this offense is.”
UCLA trailed Cincinnati 33-30 at halftime Sunday night before erupting for 49 second-half points. All five Bruins starters finished in double figures, including Lonzo Ball, who had game-highs in points (18) and assists (nine).
“It is unreal what this team can do,” Yam said. “So I think if the UCLA team that showed up in the second half against Cincinnati is the one that shows up against Kentucky, I’ll be honest with you: I think they’re getting to a Final Four if they play like that. I don’t know if you can sustain that level of play. That’s the one thing that concerns me, especially on the defensive end. They got punched in the face by Cincinnati in that first half, and they responded. I’ll give them credit for that. I look at that offense: It’s the best in the country. If you’re a believer in offense, then you like the Bruins.
“The one thing I’ll throw out there is once you get deeper and deeper in this tournament, the teams are better,” Yam continued. “You’re not going to pick up 30 points in transition. The teams that you’re playing are going to be pretty good defensively. These are teams that have been there before and are the best teams in the country. I still like UCLA, but they got to look like that second-half team against Cincinnati to beat Kentucky.”
Tip-off is Friday at 9:39 p.m. ET.