UCLA Men's Basketball Defeats Miami to Advance
March 13, 1998
ATLANTA (AP) - Tradition is nice. Clutch free throws are better.
Seniors J.R. Henderson and Toby Bailey hit four straight from the line in the final 25.2 seconds Friday night to help No. 6 seed UCLA defeat Miami 65-62 in the first round of the NCAA tournament South Regional.
"When it gets to the clutch time of the game, we kind of dig deep and fall back on our experience," Bailey said. "We've had so many close games, so many big games. We don't get rattled at the end, we just play solid."
Henderson was 2-for-7 from the line before his last shots, but rattled both in for a 63-62 lead with 25.2 seconds remaining.
After Miami's Johnny Hemsley missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left, Bailey got the rebound and hit his two free throws.
Following a timeout, Charles Wiseman missed a 3-pointer. It sent several teammates sprawling to the floor in dispair and ended the upset hopes for 11th-seeded Miami (18-10), which was making its first NCAA tournament appearance in 38 years.
Henderson finished with 26 points and Bailey had 21 as UCLA (23-8), making its fourth straight trip to the tournament, kept alive its longshot hopes for a 12th national title.
The Bruins advanced to play No. 3 seed Michigan in a second-round matchup of marquee teams.
But before that, seniors Henderson, Bailey and Kris Johnson will celebrate an important win for a group who worried that a second opening-round loss in three years would diminish the roles they played as freshmen, when the Bruins won the national title.
"I did not want to lose again in the first round," Bailey said. "I remember how it felt when we lost to Princeton (in 1996). I did not want to go out like that again."
UCLA appeared to be putting upstart Miami away midway through the second half. Leading 51-43, coach Steve Lavin called a timeout, apparently to go for a knockout blow. But Miami outscored the Bruins 19-8 to take a 62-59 lead with 1:55 left.
Henderson came back with a layup seconds later and, after Miami's 24th of the game, the 6-foot-9 senior was fouled and hit the two free throws to regain the lead.
It spoiled an 18-point effort from Mario Bland and a 13-point performance from Hemsely.
The two combined for 13 points during Miami's late run. But the Hurricanes lost Tim James, their leading scorer, to fouls with 2:17 left and they had nobody who could hit the clutch shot down the stretch.
Miami missed five shots and went scoreless over the final 1:55, including Wiseman's final miss, the reserve's only field goal attempt of the game.
Still, the Hurricanes played like they belonged throughout and put up an especially strong fight for a team that last made the tournament in 1960 and didn't have a program from 1971-85.
"This is a very tough loss," Miami coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We put ourselves in a position to win the game. It hurts. There were several kids crying in the locker room because they cared. That's a big step. Their heart is in the right place."
James didn't get the number of touches he's accustomed to and finished with 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Teammate Kevin Norris had 14.
Freshman Baron Davis scored 13 for UCLA, which couldn't run as much as it would have liked. So it slowed things down, figured out Miami's zone defense and slowly built a lead after being tied at halftime.
The Bruins shot 55 percent in the second half and 46 percent for the game - 9 percent over what Miami's top-ranked shooting defense usually allows.
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