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Lonzo Ball and UCLA kick it into gear in second half to beat Cincinnati, 79-67

The celebrating started with just less than three minutes to play, Bryce Alford holding his hands high and wriggling his fingers to coax cheers from roaring UCLA fans.

The Bruins are headed back to the NCAA tournament’s second weekend.

It took some gutsy play from Alford and teammate TJ Leaf, who shrugged off a horrid first half to help power third-seeded UCLA to a 79-67 victory over sixth-seeded Cincinnati in an NCAA tournament second-round game Sunday evening at the Golden 1 Center.

Alford and Leaf combined for 24 of their 27 points in the second half and got plenty of help from teammate Lonzo Ball, who finished with 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in 38 minutes.