With senior guard Desmond Haymon’s improbable four-point play late in the second half of Friday night’s game against No. 5 seed VCU shifting the momentum of the game, Stephen F. Austin escaped with a 77-75 overtime victory to become the third No. 12 seed to advance to the Round of 32 in this year’s NCAA Tournament. They held up well against the vaunted “Havoc” pressure the Rams employ, turning the ball over just 17 times in the game and only five times in the first half as they built a six-point halftime lead. Jacob Parker had a game-high 22 points for Stephen F. Austin, with Haymon (17 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and fellow guard Thomas Walkup (12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals) filling the stat sheet for the Lumberjacks.
Sunday’s opponent for Stephen F. Austin will be No. 4 seed UCLA, who took care of business in the second half against No. 13 seed Tulsa on their way a 76-59 win. The Bruins won decisively even with star guard Kyle Anderson scoring just eight points (3-for-11 from the floor), but he did have six assists, six rebounds, four steals and two blocks in the game and Jordan Adams picked up the offensive slack with a game-high 21 points (2-for-4 on three-pointers) along with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
A big factor in Sunday’s game will be guard play, with Stephen F. Austin’s trio of Haymon, Walkup and Trey Pinkney going up against UCLA’s Anderson, Adams and Norman Powell, who had 15 points against Tulsa. The Lumberjacks’ back court will need to limit their mistakes and avoid foul trouble collectively to keep their team in the game, and it will effectively be a road game with the crowd in San Diego firmly behind the Bruins.
Prediction: UCLA 78, Stephen F. Austin 70
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.