SAN JOSE, Calif. — Anteater lovers, unite!
The 13th-seeded UC Irvine Anteaters upset the fourth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats 70-64 Friday at the SAP Center during the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament.
It was UC Irvine’s first victory in the NCAA tournament and it came against a team that was making its 31st appearance in the tournament and had reached the Elite Eight last year.
Recent history proved more relevant as the Anteaters (31-5) extended their winning streak to 17 games in a row, a school record.
“Let’s go Eaters,’’ chanted UC Irvine’s fans and cheerleaders periodically during the spirited game.
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Max Hazzard, the grandson of former UCLA great Walt Hazzard, had a clutch three-pointer with 1:29 left to play. He and Evan Leonard led the Anteaters with 19 points.
UC Irvine, the Big West champion, trailed 28-18 with 6:19 to play in the first half. But the Anteaters closed out the half with a 12-2 run capped by Max Hazzard’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Hazzard sprinted off the the floor and his teammates followed with the score tied 30-30.
In the first half, Elston Jones, a senior forward for UC Irvine, sparked the Anteaters with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. He entered the game averaging just 5.7 points per game.