mar 2, 2017 | BEN BOLCH | THE L.A. TIMES | ARTICLE LINK
UCLA might not be without TJ Leaf for long.
Brad Leaf, the father of the Bruins freshman power forward, told The Times in an email Thursday that his son hoped to return for his team’s Pac-12 Conference tournament opener on March 9 after spraining his left ankle Wednesday during UCLA’s victory over Washington.
Brad Leaf said his son intended to get back on the court Sunday with a light workout, meaning he would miss the Bruins’ final regular-season home game Saturday against Washington State. TJ Leaf would then try to expand his movements each day leading up to the conference tournament, where No. 3 UCLA (27-3 overall, 14-3 Pac-12) has a bye into the quarterfinal round.
“He had a few bad sprains in high school,” said Brad Leaf, who coached TJ at Foothills Christian High in El Cajon, “so he knows what he is dealing with.”
Leaf is UCLA’s second-leading scorer, averaging 16.3 points per game after his injury limited him to only five minutes against the Huskies. He leaped to block a shot and rolled his ankle when he landed, forcing him out of the game.
UCLA Coach Steve Alford joked with Leaf about his stat line after the game and Leaf’s teammates appeared to be in a jovial mood, indicating that the injury was not believed to be serious.
“It’s a tough one but he’ll bounce back,” Bruins point guard Lonzo Ball said afterward. “He’ll be fine.”
UCLA junior forward Gyorgy Goloman will probably start against Washington State in Leaf’s absence, with Alford saying Wednesday that his team could also use the four-guard lineup it had abandoned in recent weeks. Goloman had one of his best games after Leaf was hurt, finishing with eight points and six rebounds in a season-high 26 minutes.
OCR's Whicker: TJ Leaf's ankle injury a dose of adversity for UCLA
mar 01, 2017 | mark Whicker |o.c. register | ARTICLE LINK
TJ Leaf hurts ankle early in UCLA's rout of Washington
MArch 02, 2017 | Ap-THE usa today | ARTICLE LINK
LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA coach Steve Alford kidded TJ Leaf that his two points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one steal in five minutes was pretty impressive.
That's all the time Leaf got because the freshman sprained his left ankle. His absence didn't bother the second-ranked Bruins who went on to rout Washington, 98-66, on Wednesday night for their eighth straight win.
"I really don't want to add any additional pressure, but that UCLA team could win a national championship," said Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar, a former UCLA assistant.
Bryce Alford scored 29 points and Lonzo Ball added 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists for the Bruins (27-3, 14-3 Pac-12), who improved to 15-1 at home. They completed a season sweep of Washington after winning by 41 points on the road last month.
Leaf will wear a boot and use crutches in between getting treatment to see if he can return in time for Saturday's regular-season finale.
"He's such a positive, uplifting dude, it's hard to tell what happened," Bryce Alford said.
The Bruins led by 21 points at halftime and extended the lead to 42 in the second half."We were engaged right from the beginning," the elder Alford said. "Our guys really concentrated well in a lopsided game. We were really good in a lot of areas."
Noah Dickerson tied his career high with 23 points for the Huskies (9-20, 2-15). They have lost 11 in a row and 13 of 14. Their 20 turnovers led to 34 points by the Bruins.
"We want to finish the season strong," Dickerson said. "At the Pac-12 Tournament, we want to have a strong showing."
Alford hit three consecutive three-pointers in the game's final 5:15. He finished with eight, one off his career high, and the Bruins had 14.
Early in the second half, Ball put on a show. The freshman phenom took a bounce pass from Thomas Welsh and scored on a fastbreak layup. He and Alford passed the ball back and forth before Alford stepped back in the left corner and hit a 3. On the Bruins' next play, Ball swiped David Crisp, picked up the ball bouncing low on the court and dunked. He later made back-to-back three-pointers.
"It was fun," Ball said. "The second half we picked up the pace and had a lot of up and down."
The Bruins opened the game by hitting their first four shots, including three three-pointers, for an 11-point lead. They were ahead by seven when Leaf got hurt.
He stepped on the foot of a Huskies player as they came down from rebounding. Leaf landed on the court and stayed down until he was helped up by two staff members. He limped off with his arms draped over the staffers and went into the locker room.
The Bruins rolled on.
The Bruins rolled on.
They went on a 16-2 run that extended their lead to 37-16. Six players scored in the spurt, including three points by G.G. Goloman and a three-point play by Ike Anigbogu, who both entered the game after Leaf left. Aaron Holiday's alley-oop pass set up Ball's dunk.
"That's the time for other guys to step up and they did," Ball said.
Washington: The Huskies continue to be in a major funk, just one spot out of the bottom of the Pac-12 standings. Romar is the longest tenured coach in the league with 15 years at the helm and the program faces a long slog back to respectability. Next week's league tourney in Las Vegas is the end of the Huskies' season.
UCLA: The Bruins were the only Pac-12 school to go undefeated in February at 7-0, the first time the school was unbeaten in that month since the 1994-95 team went 9-0 on its way to winning a record 11th national championship. All three of their defeats have been in conference; the third-place Bruins need a weekend sweep and losses by first-place Arizona and second-place Oregon to grab a share of the league regular season title.
Washington: The Huskies were without G Markelle Fultz, who scored 25 points in their earlier loss to UCLA. He's missed four of the last six games with a sore right knee. Romar said he probably won't play Saturday at USC. ... Their last win was Jan. 18 against Colorado in OT at home.
UCLA: Alford needs three three-pointers to overtake Jason Kapono as UCLA's career leader. Kapono made 317 from 2000-03. ... Alford is sixth on the school's career scoring list with 1,861 points. ... The Bruins have made a school-record 307 3-pointers this season; Oregon owns the Pac-12 season record with 350 set in 2006-07.
Lakers night out
Lakers coach Luke Walton, guard D'Angelo Russell and rookie Brandon Ingram, who played one season at Duke, attended the game. Former Laker and Clipper Lamar Odom chatted with Walton.
Washington: Visits USC on Saturday in the regular season finale.UCLA: Hosts Washington State on Saturday in the regular season finale and last home game for seniors Alford, Isaac Hamilton and Jerrold Smith, who has played a total of 20 minutes this season.