MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Jordan Adams scored 17 points and Travis Wear finished with 14 as No. 4-seed UCLA lost to No. 1-seed Florida, 79-68, before 14,991 at FedExForum in a regional semifinal of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
Kyle Anderson finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals in the Bruins’ season-ending loss to the Gators (35-2), who extended their winning streak to 29 games.
Michael Frazier scored a game-leading 19 points for Florida, connecting on 5 of 8 shots from 3-point range.
UCLA closed its season with a 28-9 overall record, the program’s best mark and highest single-season win total since going 35-4 in 2007-08. In his first season as UCLA’s head coach, Steve Alford guided the Bruins to a second-place regular-season finish in the Pac-12 standings, the Pac-12 Tournament title, and UCLA’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 since 2007-08.
Florida’s win against UCLA earned the Gators a spot in the “Elite Eight” on Saturday, when Florida will face No. 11-seed Dayton at FedExForum. Dayton cruised past Stanford, 82-72, earlier Thursday evening.
Scottie Wilbekin added 13 points for Florida, and Casey Prather finished with 12. The Gators improved their all-time record to 4-0 against UCLA, with all four contests having taken place in NCAA Tournament play since 2006.
''They played very well,'' UCLA head coach Steve Alford said of the Gators. ''They are an outstanding basketball team.''
Florida shot 50 percent for the game (29 of 58), including 59.3 percent in the second half. UCLA finished 42.2 percent (27 of 64) shooting in only their fifth game scoring under 70 points this season. The Bruins made one of 12 three-point attempts in the second half.
The Gators led 36-30 at halftime and clicked on a different level in the second half. They hit their first six shots and eight of their first 10. Every time UCLA tried to make a run, Florida had an answer. First, it was Frazier hitting consecutive 3-pointers as UCLA pulled within 43-39.
When the Bruins pulled within 56-55 on a layup by Norman Powell midway through the second half, Finney-Smith hit a jumper for the first of 10 straight points. Wilbekin finished off the run with a three-point play that had the Gators solidly in control, up 66-55 with 5:34 left.
''He hit two big shots down the stretch,'' Anderson said. ''That's what you expect out of your senior point guard. He's been here in the Sweet 16 four years. He made big shots. Credit to him.''
For all the talk of Florida's stingy defense, UCLA opened the game blocking the Gators' first two shots. he Bruins only blocked two more shots the rest of the game.
The Bruins came in as one of the nation's best scoring teams, averaging 81.5 points a game. Florida showed early it could shoot too, hitting 5 of 8 beyond the arc in spurt that turned a 14-11 deficit into a 20-16 lead. Back-to-back 3s from Frazier put the Gators ahead to stay.