INDIANAPOLIS — It took several days after Selection Sunday, but No. 6 seeded BYU finally found out its opponent in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

No. 11 UCLA outlasted No. 11 Michigan State 86-80 in overtime Thursday night in a First Four matchup at Mackey Arena on the campus of Purdue University.

The Bruins, who entered the NCAA Tournament mired in a four-game losing streak, advance to face the Cougars Saturday (7:40 p.m., MDT, CBS) at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

“Our reward is we get to play BYU,” said UCLA coach Mick Cronin. “That’s no small task. They play well. They were up 12 on Gonzaga (in the West Coast Conference championship game). I was home watching that game. I thought they might have had ‘em. That’s our reward. We’ve got more work to do.”

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When the brackets were revealed last Sunday, Michigan State quickly became a trendy first-round upset pick by national pundits, who predicted that the Spartans would not only beat UCLA, but also take down BYU. 

So much for that. 

UCLA’s surprising victory capped a thrilling day of First Four games Thursday, with the four games decided by a total of 16 points. 

“I’m very happy for my guys. We’ve been through a long year with injuries and recently we’ve been struggling with closing games out despite playing well at times. So the players really needed this.” — UCLA coach Mick Cronin

Michigan State led by as many as 14 points in the first half and 11 at halftime. But UCLA rallied in the second half. The Bruins took the lead with a little less than six minutes remaining, 67-66. Then UCLA trailed again by five with 1:30 left in regulation. 

From there, the Bruins rode their momentum while the Spartans wilted, limping into overtime. 

“I’m very happy for my guys,” Cronin said. “We’ve been through a long year with injuries and recently we’ve been struggling with closing games out despite playing well at times. So the players really needed this.”

UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez scored a game-high and career-high 27 points and played all 45 minutes. 

“I just really wanted to win. We came in with a four-game losing streak,” Jaquez said. “We came out playing as hard as we could, trying to get rebounds, doing whatever we could to win … It says a lot about our team and the resilience that we have. We knew we had to come out in the second half with a different energy.”

Jaquez said he and his teammates were proud to honor legendary John Wooden, a former star at Purdue who won 10 NCAA championships at UCLA as a coach. Wooden’s number is retired at Purdue and his statue stands outside Mackey Arena.  

“Maybe coach’s luck was with us,” Cronin said. “We were due for some luck as well. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for us. Maybe he was looking down on us.”

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The game marked the first time that Cronin has seen his father, Hep, who lives in Cincinnati, in more than a year due to the pandemic. Hep Cronin avoided traveling because of COVID-19. Father and son shared a special moment together after the win. 

BYU defeated UCLA 78-63 in the 2019 Maui Invitational in the most recent meeting between the two programs. 

The Cougars and Bruins have a history in the Big Dance. 

The only other time BYU was a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, in 1981, the Cougars beat Princeton in the first round, upset No. 3 UCLA 78-55 in the second round, knocked off Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 and fell to Virginia in the Elite Eight.