MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Top-seeded Florida won its 29th consecutive game, holding off fourth-seeded UCLA 79-68 Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament’s South Regional semifinals at FedExForum.
Florida (35-2) will play 11th-seeded Dayton, which defeated Stanford in the region’s other semifinal, on Saturday for a trip to the Final Four.
Although the Gators led 66-55 with 5:34 to play, the Bruins pulled within 68-63 with 3:12 left after a jumper from guard Jordan Adams (17 points). However, UCLA could get no closer, and coach Billy Donovan is just a game away from his fourth Final Four in 18 seasons at Florida.
Gators guard Michael Frazier II led the scoring with 19 points, and he knocked down five of eight 3-point attempts. Frazier, a 44.4 percent 3-point shooter this season, rebounded from going 3-for-13 from long distance and scoring a combined 13 points in Florida’s first two NCAA games.
Thursday’s seminal also marked a comeback for Florida freshman guard Kasey Hill. He came off the bench to produce a career-high 10 assists and six points after having just two assists combined in the NCAA victories over Albany and Pittsburgh.
Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin finished with 13 points, forward Casey Prather had 12 points, and reserve forward Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
UCLA (28-9) dropped to 0-4 all-time vs. Florida, each loss coming in the NCAA Tournament.
Bruins forward Travis Wear had 14 points, and forward Kyle Anderson finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
The Gators shot 50 percent (29-for-58), and UCLA shot 42.2 percent (27-for-64). Florida had a 40-30 edge on rebounds.
Florida held a 36-30 lead at halftime and had a 21-14 rebounding edge through the first 20 minutes, including a 7-1 advantage on the offensive glass. The Bruins had just three first-half assists with seven turnovers.
NOTES: Both coaches have sons on their teams. UCLA coach Steve Alford’s son Bryce, a freshman guard, played in all 36 games. He scored two points Thursday. Son Kory, a sophomore guard, appeared in 11 games this season. He didn’t play against the Gators. Florida coach Billy Donovan’s son Billy, a junior guard, played in 16 games, but he wasn’t involved Thursday. … In his 18th season at Florida, Donovan is the dean of SEC coaches. This season, there were six Division I head coaches who were assistants under Donovan. … Since the NCAA Tournament field went to 32 teams in the 1974-75 season, UCLA has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen 18 times. … Alford has led four schools to the NCAA Tournament: Missouri State, Iowa, New Mexico and UCLA.
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