mar 18, 2017 | UCLA MEN'S BASKETBALL PAGE | POST LINKSACRAMENTO, Calif. – UCLA (30-4) returns to action in the NCAA Tournament against No. 6-seed Cincinnati (30-5) on Sunday, March 19. The Bruins and Bearcats will tip-off at approximately 6:40 p.m. (PT) at the Golden 1 Center. UCLA's game will be nationally televised on TBS with the radio broadcast available in the Los Angeles area on AM 570.
No. 3-seed UCLA (30-4) vs. No. 6-seed Cincinnati (30-5)
Sacramento, Calif. – Golden 1 Center (capacity: 15,745)
Sunday, March 19 – approximately 6:40 p.m. (PT)
Team stats going into tonight's game:
TV Talent: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore, Ros Gold-Onwude (sideline)
Radio (UCLA Sports Network): AM 570 (KLAC)
Radio Talent: Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Tracy Murray (analyst)
Sirius/XM Radio Channels: Ch. 145/Ch. 206
Sirius App. Channel: Ch. 964
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The Bruins are seeking a trip to the Sweet 16 with a win on Sunday against Cincinnati. UCLA has made 13 trips to the Sweet 16 since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 (33 years). The Bruins are looking to advance to the Sweet 16 (regional semifinals) for the sixth time in 12 seasons, most recently having gone to the Sweet 16 in 2015.
UCLA has won at least 30 games in nine seasons, including this year's 30-4 mark. The Bruins secured their 30th win of the season on Friday night, taking down Kent State (97-80) in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA last won at least 30 games during the 2007-08 season, going 35-4 that year while advancing to the program's third consecutive Final Four.
UCLA will face No. 6-seed Cincinnati on Sunday evening at the Golden 1 Center, marking the fourth all-time meeting between these two schools. The Bruins, then the No. 8-seed, defeated No. 1-seed Cincinnati in the 2002 NCAA Tournament (105-101, double overtime) when these two schools last met. In all, Cincinnati has posted a 2-1 record against UCLA. The Bearcats defeated UCLA, 72-70, in the 1962 NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati also defeated the Bruins, 82-76, in the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Dec. 18, 1965. Sunday's game will mark the third meeting between these two schools in the NCAA Tournament.
KEY NOTES ABOUT UCLA
- Through games played Friday, March 17, UCLA continued to lead the nation in scoring (90.6 ppg), overall field goal percentage (52.2%), assists per game (21.6), total assists (734) and assist-turnover ratio (1.90). No UCLA team has ever had an assist-turnover ratio as high as 1.90 or totaled as many as 734 assists in one season (on record).
- Now in his fourth season as UCLA's head coach, Steve Alford guided the Bruins to back-to-back NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances in his first two seasons (2014, 2015). Alford has led the Bruins to 30 total victories this season, the most by any UCLA team since the Bruins' 2007-08 squad registered a 35-4 overall record.
- Most recently, the Bruins secured a 97-80 win over Kent State on Friday night in the team's opening game of the NCAA Tournament. TJ Leaf had 23 points, Thomas Welsh added 16 points and Aaron Holiday logged 15 points and a career-high 11 assists in the win. Lonzo Ball had 15 points and Isaac Hamilton totaled 14.
- The Bruins have defeated every team on their schedule, having avenged losses to Oregon, Arizona and USC with wins over those Pac-12 teams in February rematches. UCLA opened the season with a perfect 13-0 record through the non-conference portion of its schedule before an 89-87 loss at Oregon on a last-second three-point shot (Dec. 28).
- UCLA has gone 14-3 away from home this season, including a 6-1 record in neutral site games. The Bruins became the only team to have ever won games in the same season against Kentucky at Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.) and versus Arizona in the McKale Center (Tucson, Ariz.). Kentucky was ranked No. 1 in the nation, while Arizona was ranked No. 4.
- The Bruins secured three Pac-12 "road sweeps," picking up road wins at Colorado and Utah (Jan. 12, 14), at Washington State and Washington (Feb. 1, 4) and at Arizona State and Arizona (Feb. 23, 25). UCLA is the only Pac-12 school to have ever swept road series at Colorado/Utah and Arizona State/Arizona in the same season.
- Ranked No. 6 (USA Today Coaches) and No. 8 (AP) in this week's polls, UCLA has been ranked in the top 10 in both major polls in 14 of 18 weeks this season (does not include preseason poll). The Bruins have been ranked in the top 5 in one of the major polls in 11 of 18 weeks, ascending to as high as No. 2 in both polls for four weeks in December.
- The Bruins went 7-0 through the month of February and were the Pac-12's only program to have logged a perfect record that month. No UCLA team had gone undefeated in February since the 1994-95 squad went 9-0. UCLA's 1995 team finished the season with six consecutive NCAA Tournament wins to secure the NCAA Championship.
- The Bruins have averaged a nation-leading 21.6 assists per game, the highest per-game average of any NCAA Division I team since 1996, when Kentucky captured the NCAA Championship while tallying 21.8 assists per game. UCLA has dished at least 20 assists in 21 of 34 games, including a season-high 30 against Arizona State (Jan. 19).
- Senior Bryce Alford and freshmen Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors. Ball was named the conference's Freshman of the Year and joined Leaf on the Pac-12's five-person All-Freshmen Team.
- Bryce Alford (career average of 13.6 ppg) ranks No. 5 on UCLA's all-time scoring list (1,893 points). In addition, he has become UCLA's all-time leader in three-pointers made (322), having eclipsed Jason Kapono's total of 317.
- Lonzo Ball (14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 7.6 apg) has established UCLA's single-season assists record (257), surpassing a mark of 256 set by Larry Drew II (2012-13). He's one of 15 finalists on the ballot for the John R. Wooden Award.
- TJ Leaf (16.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.6 apg) is one of just three players in the Pac-12 – along with Stanford's Reid Travis and Utah's Kyle Kuzma – to rank among the league's top 10 leaders in both scoring and rebounding.
- Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf are UCLA's first freshmen to earn first-team All-Pac-12 acclaim since Shabazz Muhammad in 2013. Other UCLA freshmen in the 2000s to accomplish that feat are Kevin Love (2008) and Jason Kapono (2000).
- Senior guards Bryce Alford (15.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.6 apg) and Isaac Hamilton (14.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg) have both started in each of UCLA's last 102 games – that's every game since the start of UCLA's 2014-15 campaign.
- Named the nation's "Best Sixth Man" last week by BleacherReport.com, sophomore Aaron Holiday (12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.4 apg) has scored in double figures in 24 games, coming off the bench in all 34 contests.
- One of six UCLA players who has averaged in double-figure scoring, junior Thomas Welsh (10.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg) has recorded nine double-doubles (three in Pac-12 play) and ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in FG percentage (58.6%).
Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton and TJ Leaf have scored at least 32 points in a game this season, with all three performances taking place in Pac-12 play. Alford had a career-high 37 points at Colorado (Jan. 12), Hamilton recorded a season-high 33 versus Arizona State (Jan. 19) and Leaf had 32 at Washington State (Feb. 1). In all, six Bruins – including Lonzo Ball, Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday – have scored at least 20 points in one game this year.
BRUINS IN SACRAMENTO
UCLA are playing in Sacramento for the first time since March 2007, when the Bruins won a pair of first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games against Weber State (70-42) and Indiana (54-49) as the No. 2 seed in the West Region. This will mark just the second time in which UCLA has played NCAA Tournament contests in Sacramento. UCLA's game on Friday evening will mark the Bruins' first-ever contest at the Golden 1 Center.
UCLA has two former players competing for the Sacramento Kings. Both Darren Collison (2006-09) and Arron Afflalo (2005-07) have played for the Kings this season. Collison and Afflalo were part of UCLA's 2007 team that played in Sacramento before advancing to San Jose (regional semifinal/final) and Atlanta for the Final Four. Collison was a part of three Final Four teams at UCLA (2006, 2007, 2008) while Afflalo was on two of those teams (2005, 2006).
IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Steve Alford has led his teams to the NCAA D-I Tournament in 10 of 22 seasons while coaching at the D-I level. In 26 seasons overall, he has guided his teams to 13 NCAA Tournaments (three D-3 trips at Manchester College). Alford has coached UCLA to three NCAA Tournaments in four years (Sweet 16 trips in 2014 and 2015). This marks the highest seed for an Alford-coached team since his 2013 New Mexico squad secured a No. 3 seed in the West Regional.
UCLA has secured its highest NCAA Tournament seed since landing the No. 1 seed in the West Region in March 2008. Prior to that, UCLA had earned a No. 2 seed in the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Tournaments. The Bruins have played NCAA Tournament games in the state of California, most recently, in 2006 (San Diego and Oakland), 2007 (Sacramento, San Jose), 2008 (Anaheim) and 2014 (San Diego). UCLA went 12-0 in those games.