Thursday, November 24, 2016

No. 14 UCLA Set to Play at Wooden Legacy

No. 14 UCLA Set to Play at Wooden Legacy
Thomas Welsh (photo by Scott Chandler)Tpen their tournament schedule in Fullerton, Calif., on Thursday versus Portland.
The Bruins open their tournament schedule in Fullerton, Calif., on Thursday versus Portland.

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LOS ANGELES – No. 14/13 UCLA (4-0) will face Portland (3-0) in a first-round game of the 2016 Wooden Legacy at Cal State Fullerton on Thanksgiving night. Game time is 8 p.m. (PT). The Bruins' game at Titan Gym will be nationally televised on ESPN2. Fans can also listen to the radio call in the Los Angeles area on AM 570 (KLAC).

Venue: Titan Gym at Cal State Fullerton (4,000)
Game Time: 8 p.m. (PT)
Television: ESPN2
TV Talent: Doug Sherman (play-by-play), Sean Farnham (analyst), Jeff Goodman (courtside)
Radio: AM 570
Radio Talent: Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Tracy Murray (analyst)
SIRIUS/XM Radio Channels: Ch. 81/Ch. 81
SIRIUS App. Channel: Ch. 81

Ranked No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches poll, UCLA looks for its fifth win in as many games this Thursday at the Wooden Legacy. UCLA last played in the Wooden Legacy tournament in Nov. 2009, when the event was known as the 76 Classic (and was played at the Anaheim Convention Center). The winner of Thursday's matchup will face either Dayton or Nebraska in a semifinal contest on Friday evening at 9 p.m. (PT). All four contests on Sunday will take place at the Honda Center (Anaheim). The championship game is at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN) and the third-place game will begin at 1 p.m. (ESPNU).

UCLA averaged 105.8 points in its first four games, the first time since Dec. 1990 in which the Bruins had averaged that many points through a four-game span. From Dec. 2-15, 1990, UCLA averaged 115.8 points per game, buoyed by a 149-98 win over Loyola Marymount before defeating Saint Mary's, 123-93, three days later. With TJ Leaf scoring a team-high 20.3 points per game, this season's squad currently features six players averaging in double figures.

With its 119-80 win over Pacific in the season opener (Nov. 11), UCLA recorded its highest single-game point total since defeating Cal State Fullerton, 120-91, on Dec. 13, 1997. In addition, UCLA has scored at least 40 points in all eight halves this season, recording a season-best 63 points in the first half of its season-opening victory against Pacific (Nov. 11).

The Bruins have posted a 4-0 record, most recently securing victories over San Diego (88-68 on Nov. 17) and Long Beach State (114-77 on Nov. 20). In two games last week, freshman TJ Leaf averaged 23.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, making 19 of 25 field goal attempts (76 percent) and hitting 8 of 9 free throw shots (88.9 percent). UCLA shot 59.1 percent from the field through both games and was 29 for 33 from the free throw line.

Freshman Lonzo Ball has been named to the 50-person watch list for both the Naismith Trophy (presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club) and the John R. Wooden Award. Averaging 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game, Ball has shot 61.1 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range. In UCLA's season opener (Nov. 11), he had 19 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Ball has twice recorded 11 assists, one shy of UCLA's single-game freshman record – Pooh Richardson had 12 as a freshman in a double-overtime win at Washington State (Jan. 11, 1986).

Seven UCLA players scored in double figures in the season opener against Pacific (Nov. 11). In addition, six Bruins scored in double figures against San Diego (Nov. 17) and versus Long Beach State (Nov. 20).  Prior to this season, UCLA had not seen seven of its players score in double figures in the same game since Dec. 19, 1998, when the Bruins defeated CSUN, 114-97. UCLA's previous games with at least six double-figure scorers took place in wins over Montana State (Nov. 14, 2014 – Pauley Pavilion) and against Stanford in overtime (March 4, 2000 – Maples Pavilion, at Stanford).

Seniors Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton have opened the year as two of the Pac-12's most veteran players. Alford ranks No. 24 on UCLA's all-time scoring list (1,439 points), having averaged 13.2 points per game in 109 career contests. He entered this season as the only returning player in a Power 5 conference to have averaged at least 16.0 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game last year. Hamilton entered the year as the Pac-12's top returning scorer from one year ago (16.8 ppg last year) and has totaled 988 career points in 72 games at UCLA.
1,000 POINT CLUB: Isaac Hamilton is just 12 points shy of becoming the 54th player at UCLA to have scored at least 1,000 career points for the Bruins. He has totaled 988 career points, averaging 13.7 per game.

Freshman TJ Leaf ranks among the top five in the Pac-12 in scoring (fourth, 20.3 ppg) and rebounding (fifth, 10.0 rpg), through games played Sunday, Nov. 20. Leaf's 72.7 percentage from the field is second overall (32 of 44), while classmate Lonzo Ball ranks eighth in overall field goal percentage (61.1). In addition, Ball leads all Pac-12 players in both assists per game (9.0) and total assists (36). Through Nov. 20, Ball's 36 assists were 15 more than the next highest total of any Pac-12 player (Arizona State's Shannon Evans had dished 21 assists).

Prior to this tournament being renamed the Wooden Legacy before the 2013-14 season, UCLA had annually participated in the "Wooden Classic," an annual Saturday doubleheader at the Honda Center in Anaheim (typically in early December). In Nov. 2012, the Bruins played in the John R. Wooden Classic for the 16th time, losing to San Diego State. UCLA recorded a 11-5 mark in 16 total appearances at the John R. Wooden Classic, an event that began in Dec. 1994. In all, the Wooden Classic took place in 19 consecutive years before the format change in 2013.

Portland has opened its season with a 3-0 record, securing victories against UC Riverside, San Jose State and Lewis & Clark. Under the direction of first-year head coach Terry Porter, Portland has outscored its opponents by an average of 25.0 points per game. Senior guard Alec Wintering (Charlotte, N.C.) has averaged a team-leading 19.0 points and 8.0 assists per game. Junior forward Gabe Taylor (Newberg, Ore.) has led the Pilots' frontcourt, averaging 17.3 points and a team-leading 8.0 rebounds per game (team-high 32.7 minutes per game).

Sophomore guard Aaron Holiday has averaged 14.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds in the Bruins' first four games. Against Pacific on Nov. 11, he had 18 points and five assists (no turnovers). In fact, he came off the bench in that game midway through the first half and scored UCLA's next 10 consecutive points over a 1-minute, 27-second span. Last season, he averaged 10.3 points per game and started all 32 contests. He led the Bruins in 3-point field goal percentage one year ago, shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc, and averaged 4.0 assists per game.

Junior center Thomas Welsh averaged 11.2 points and a team-leading 8.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2015-16. He led the Bruins in blocked shots (32) and has now registered 85 career blocked shots, needing just seven more to crack the school's all-time top 10 leaders in blocks. Last season, Welsh earned second-team Pac-12 All-Academic acclaim, becoming UCLA's first player since the 2009-10 season to earn the conference's academic honor (Mustafa Abdul-Hamid was a first-team selection and Malcolm Lee was a second-team honoree that year).

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