Saturday, December 10, 2016

No. 2 UCLA to Host Michigan on Saturday

Michigan's Robert Traylor is showered by glass from the backboard he shattered while slam dunking in the first half against Ball State, in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Nov. 26, 1996. Link.
The Bruins (9-0) will face Michigan (7-2) in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT).

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LOS ANGELES – No. 2 UCLA (9-0) hosts Michigan (7-2) in Pauley Pavilion before a nationally-televised audience this Saturday evening (TV: ESPN2). Game time is 5 p.m. (PT). The Bruins are looking for their 10th consecutive victory, which would mark the program's longest winning streak at any point in a season since 2012-13.

Venue: Pauley Pavilion (13,800)
Tipoff Time: 5:05 p.m. (PT)
Television: ESPN2
TV Talent: Dave Flemming (play-by-play), Dan Dakich (analyst)
Radio: AM 1150
Radio Talent: Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Tracy Murray (analyst)
SIRIUS/XM Radio Channels: Ch. 81/Ch. 81
SIRIUS App. Channel: Ch. 81

- Doors to Pauley Pavilion will open to the public at 3:45 p.m. Fans are encouraged to be familiar with UCLA's new "clear bag" policy at all games this season (more info).
- In the spirit of the holiday season, the Bruins are encouraging their fans to bring non-perishable items to donate for this year's food drive benefiting the L.A. Regional Food Bank.
- UCLA is hosting a free pregame event outside on the Centennial Terrace of the new Luskin Conference Center, located nearest to the southeast corner of Pauley Pavilion, starting at 3:30 p.m., with appearances by the UCLA Spirit Squad and Band.
- Stay in your seats at halftime on Saturday for a special performance by the Olate Dogs (more info), winners of America's Got Talent.

Michigan is making its first trip to play in Pauley Pavilion since Dec. 23, 2006 (UCLA won that contest, 82-55). The Bruins are playing a Big Ten opponent for the second time in three weeks, having downed Nebraska, 82-71, in a semifinal game of the Wooden Classic at Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 25. Ranked No. 2 in the nation, the Bruins are seeking their 10th consecutive victory to open the year.

While UCLA owns an 11-5 edge in the all-time series against Michigan, the Wolverines have won the last two games. Both schools last met at the 2011 Maui Invitational, with Michigan winning the third-place game, 79-63. UCLA and Michigan faced each other seven consecutive years from 2002 through 2008.

- UCLA has surged to the No. 2 spot in the AP and USA Today Coaches polls after having defeated No. 1-ranked Kentucky, 97-92, before a capacity crowd at Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.) last Saturday. Last season, on the same day (Dec. 3), the Bruins beat No. 1-ranked Kentucky, 87-77, in Pauley Pavilion on a Thursday night.
- The Bruins have not been ranked as high as No. 2 in either of the two major college basketball polls since Nov. 26, 2007, when UCLA was tabbed No. 2 in the AP poll and No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches poll. Likewise, the Bruins are back in the top 5 (in both polls) for the first time since Nov. 17, 2008.
- Freshman forward TJ Leaf secured Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for the first time in his young career on Monday, having averaged 17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in UCLA's wins over UC Riverside and Kentucky. Leaf registered his fourth double-double of the season at Kentucky (17 points, 13 rebounds).
- Six Bruins scored in double figures in the team's 97-92 win at No. 1-ranked Kentucky last Saturday. Isaac Hamiltonscored a team-high 19 points, TJ Leaf had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Thomas Welsh and Lonzo Ball each had 14 points and Aaron Holiday came off the bench to score 13 points (all in the first half).
- UCLA has now played the nation's No. 1-ranked team (AP poll) five times during head coach Steve Alford's four seasons in Westwood. The Bruins have played Kentucky each of the last three years (each time in December), with the Wildcats having been ranked No. 1 in both major polls at the time of each game.
- Saturday's 97-92 win at Kentucky marked UCLA's first win on the road at the nation's No. 1-ranked team since defeating Stanford, 79-73, at Maples Pavilion on Feb. 3, 2001. In fact, UCLA had not played a true road game at the country's No. 1-ranked team since Feb. 13, 2003 (lost at No. 1 Arizona, 106-70).
- UCLA's victory snapped the Wildcats' 42-game win streak in Rupp Arena. Kentucky had not lost at home since a 71-67 overtime setback to Arkansas on Feb. 27, 2014. In addition, the Bruins' 97 points were the most surrendered by any Kentucky team under eighth-year head coach John Calipari (his first season at UK was 2009-10).

The Bruins (9-0) are off to their best start since opening the 2006-07 campaign with 14 consecutive wins. This marks the 15th time in school history in which UCLA has opened with at least nine consecutive wins (nine of those previous 14 seasons culminated with a national title). Since head coach John Wooden retired following the 1974-75 season, the Bruins have been 9-0 (or better) four times – 2016-17, 2006-07, 1993-94 and 1991-92. UCLA last opened a season with eight straight wins in 2013-14, head coach Steve Alford's first season in Westwood.

One of 11 undefeated programs in the country, UCLA ranks first in the nation in assists per game (24.0) and field goal percentage (55.1), through Monday, Dec. 5. Likewise, the Bruins are second, nationally, in scoring (97.0 ppg) and three-point field goal percentage (45.4) and rank third in assist-turnover ratio (1.88). UCLA is currently ahead of its league-record 92.3 points per game average set in 1967-68 as well as Oregon State's 21.7 assists per game mark established in 1979-80. Prior to the assist being an official stat, UCLA averaged 22.4 assists per game in 1973-74.

Lonzo Ball, a 6-foot-6 freshman guard, has four double-doubles in nine games, all of the point-assist variety. He set UCLA's single-game freshman assists record (13) against UC Riverside (Nov. 30), surpassing a mark established by Pooh Richardson (12 assists) on Jan. 11, 1986 in a double-overtime victory at Washington State.
- Currently averaging 14.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and a nation-leading 9.3 assists per game, Ball is one of just two freshmen in the nation to have had 13 or more assists in one game. Joining Ball in that category is Oregon freshman Patyon Pritchard, who had 13 assists in a win over Savannah State (Dec. 3).
- Ball leads all players, nationally, in assists per game (9.3 apg) and total assists (84), through Monday, Dec. 5. UCLA has never had a player average as many as 8.0 or more assists through one full season (Pooh Richardson averaged 7.6 apg in 1988-89). Ball has shot 55.4 percent from the field, averaging a team-high 34.2 minutes per game.

Bryce Alford currently ranks No. 21 on UCLA's all-time scoring list (1,502 points). The 6-foot-3 senior guard has registered 15.3 points per game this season and 13.2 per game in his career. He entered the year as the nation's only returning player in a Power 5 conference to have averaged at least 16.0 ppg, 5.0 apg and 3.0 rpg last season.
Isaac Hamilton, who tied his career high with seven 3-pointers against UC Riverside (Nov. 30), has averaged a team-leading 18.1 points per game and has scored in double figures in all nine UCLA contests. Hamilton has shot 51.7 percent from the field and crossed the school's career 1,000-point plateau on Nov. 24 in a win over Portland.

TJ Leaf, a 6-foot-10 freshman forward from El Cajon, Calif., has averaged 17.2 points and 9.4 rebounds in the Bruins' nine contests. Leaf and classmate Lonzo Ball were teammates in the 2016 McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago. Leaf already has four double-doubles, including a 17-point, 13-rebound, 5-assist game last Saturday at No. 1-ranked Kentucky (Dec. 3). Leaf and Kevon Looney (now with the Golden State Warriors) are the only freshmen in program history to have recorded at least two double-doubles in their first three UCLA contests (Looney was at UCLA in 2014-15).

UCLA has recorded a season-high 29 assists in three games this year (vs. Pacific on Nov. 11, vs. Portland on Nov. 24 and vs. UC Riverside on Nov. 30). Previously, UCLA had not had as many as 29 assists since Dec. 31, 2006 (vs. Washington). UCLA last reached the 30-assist total in a game on Feb. 23, 1995, recording 32 assists at California (UCLA won, 104-88). The Bruins also had 32 assists on Nov. 27, 1993 (against Loyola Marymount) and on Feb. 23, 1989 (versus Washington). UCLA totaled 38 assists on Dec. 2, 1990 in the team's 149-98 win over Loyola Marymount.

Sophomore guard Aaron Holiday has averaged 12.9 points, 4.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds in the Bruins' first nine games. In last Saturday's win at Kentucky, Holiday scored 13 points – all in the first half – to help the Bruins to a 49-45 halftime lead (and eventual 97-92 victory). In the team's season opener against Pacific (Nov. 11), Holiday came off the bench midway through the first half and scored UCLA's next 10 consecutive points over a 1-minute, 27-second span. Through Monday, Dec. 5, Holiday led all Pac-12 players in 3-point field goal percentage (53.3, 16-for-30).

Junior center Thomas Welsh has averaged 11.1 points and a team-leading 9.6 rebounds through nine games. He currently leads the team with 20 blocks, more than half of his entire total from last season (32). The 7-foot center from Redondo Beach, Calif., has registered 91 career blocked shots, just one shy of tying the No. 10 all-time mark at UCLA (Travis Wear finished with 92 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.

UCLA has averaged 97.0 points per game, having eclipsed the 100-point plateau in three of its first four contests. The Bruins registered 105.6 points in their first four contests, the program's best such four-game average since Dec. 2-15, 1990, when UCLA averaged 115.8 points per game. Six UCLA players enter this Saturday's game against Michigan having averaged in double figures (scoring). UCLA has shot 45.4 percent from 3-point range.

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