UCLA slipped past Southern Methodist University 60-59 behind a stunning display of long-range shooting from sophonore guard Bryce Alford Thursday to open play in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
The 11th-seeded Bruins walked away with the one-point win after the 6th-seeded Mustangs missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer. Alford led the Bruins with 27 points and Norman Powell added 19.
The Bruins trailed 55-49 with 2:38 remaining before Alford's 3-pointer chipped into the Mustangs' lead. SMU pulled out to a 59-52 lead with 1:06 left to play before another Alford 3-point shot closed the gap.
Powell hit two freethrows for UCLA with 29 seconds left before another Alford 3-pointer -- actually, a goaltending called whistled against the Mustangs -- gave the Bruins a lead they did not relinquish. Alford's forced attempted appeared to be heading off the mark, but officials determined that SMU's Yanick Moreira touched the ball too soon and awarded UCLA the basket.
Alford hit 9 of his 11 attempts from 3-point range.
The Mustangs (27-7) had two shots to win in the final seconds, but Nic Moore missed a 3-pointer and then a 2-point attempt that sent the Bruins (21-13) into a wild celebration.
UCLA will play the University of Alabama-Birmingham Saturday in the Round of 32.