Thursday, March 23, 2017

UCLA Looks Ahead to Sweet 16 Versus Kentucky

From ESPN. If, for some reason, this video does not work, here's a Link to the video (Link). 
UCLA (31-4) will face Kentucky (31-5) in Memphis, Tenn., on Friday, March 24.

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LOS ANGELES – No. 3-seed UCLA (31-4) will take on No. 2-seed Kentucky (31-5) in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 on Friday, March 24, at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. The Bruins' game against Kentucky will begin at approximately 6:40 pm PT (8:40 pm CT). This will mark the Bruins' second contest against the Wildcats this season, as UCLA secured a 97-92 victory in the program's first-ever game at Kentucky's Rupp Arena on Dec. 3, 2016.
No. 3-seed UCLA (31-4) vs. No. 2-seed Kentucky (31-5)
Memphis, Tenn. – FedExForum (capacity: 18,119)
Friday, March 24 – approximately 6:40 pm PT (8:40 pm CT)
TV Talent: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
Radio (UCLA Sports Network): AM 570 (KLAC)
Radio Talent: Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Tracy Murray (analyst)
Sirius/XM Radio Channels: Ch. 136/Ch. 201
Sirius App. Channel: Ch. 961
The Bruins have advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four seasons, all under fourth-year head coach Steve Alford. Last weekend in Sacramento, No. 3-seed UCLA took down No. 14-seed Kent State, 97-80, on Friday before securing a 79-67 victory over No. 6-seed Cincinnati on Sunday night.
Freshmen TJ Leaf (17.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Lonzo Ball (16.5 ppg, 6.0 apg, 5.5 rpg) helped lead the way in UCLA's two wins last week. Ball shot 76.5 percent from the field, making 13 of 17 shots (and 6 of 10 attempts from 3-point range). Junior Thomas Welsh averaged 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two wins.
The Bruins most recently played at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn., in a Sweet 16 matchup against No. 1 overall seed Florida on March 27, 2014 (UCLA lost to Florida, 79-68). As the No. 4 seed in the South Region in that season's tournament, UCLA had advanced to Memphis after winning back-to-back games at Viejas Arena (San Diego).
Saturday night's game will mark the fourth meeting between UCLA and Kentucky in the last three seasons. UCLA has won the last two matchups. The Bruins won in Pauley Pavilion last season, 87-77 (12/3/15), before taking down the Wildcats, 97-92, in UCLA's first-ever game at Rupp Arena earlier this year (12/3/16).
Through games played March 19, UCLA continued to lead the nation in scoring (90.2 ppg), overall field goal percentage (52.1%), assists per game (21.6), total assists (755) and assist-turnover ratio (1.93). No UCLA team has ever had an assist-turnover ratio as high as 1.93 or totaled as many as 755 assists in one season (on record).
Now in his fourth season as UCLA's head coach, Steve Alford guided the Bruins to three Sweet 16 appearances (2014, 2015 and 2017). This season, Alford has led UCLA to a 31-4 overall record (and a 15-3 Pac-12 mark), the most total wins by any UCLA team since the Bruins' 2007-08 squad went 35-4.
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 15-3 away from home this season, including a 7-1 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 last 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.

UCLA has compiled a 4-3 record against teams that have advanced to the Sweet 16. UCLA secured non-conference wins over Kentucky (97-92 on Dec. 3) and Michigan (102-84 on Dec. 10), in addition to going 1-1 versus Oregon and 1-2 against Arizona. The Bruins have faced Kentucky three times in the past three seasons and have played North Carolina in each of the previous two years. UCLA has not faced Butler since Nov. 27, 2009 (at the 76 Classic in Anaheim).
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 22 of 35 games, including a season-high 30 against Arizona State (Jan. 19).

UCLA is one of just four schools in the nation to have seen its men's and women's basketball teams advance to the Sweet 16. Joining UCLA in that select group include Baylor, Oregon and South Carolina. The men's basketball program has secured its third appearance in the Sweet 16 in the last four seasons, while the UCLA women's program is making its second consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16 this season.
Bryce Alford (career average of 13.6 ppg) ranks No. 5 on UCLA's all-time scoring list (1,909 points). In addition, he has become UCLA's all-time leader in three-pointers made (326), having eclipsed Jason Kapono's total of 317.
Lonzo Ball (14.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 7.6 apg) has established UCLA's single-season assists record (266), surpassing a mark of 256 set by Larry Drew II (2012-13). Ball is one of 15 finalists on the ballot for the John R. Wooden Award.
TJ Leaf (16.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.5 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 (14.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg) have both started in each of UCLA's last 103 games – that's every game since the start of UCLA's 2014-15 campaign.
- Named the nation's "Best Sixth Man" earlier this month by, sophomore Aaron Holiday (12.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.4 apg) has scored in double figures in 24 games, coming off the bench in all 35 contests.
- One of six UCLA players who has averaged in double-figure scoring, junior Thomas Welsh (10.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg) has recorded nine double-doubles (three in Pac-12 play) and ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in FG percentage (58.5%).
Bryce AlfordIsaac 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 BallThomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday – have scored at least 20 points in one game this year.
Lonzo Ball has established UCLA's new single-season assist record (currently at 266), having eclipsed the mark of 256 set by Larry Drew II as a senior in 2012-13. Ball currently ranks third on the Pac-12's single-season assists lists, behind Ahlon Lewis (294) and Jason Kidd (272). In addition, Ball has already set the Pac-12 and UCLA freshman assist records. He totaled a season-high 14 assists against Washington State on March 4, moving past Gary Patyon's previous Pac-12 freshman record of 229, set during the 1986-87 season at Oregon State.
Bryce Alford ranks No. 5 on UCLA's all-time scoring list (1,909 career points). He scored a career-high 37 points, connecting on nine three-pointers, in UCLA's win at Colorado (Jan. 12). The senior guard has scored in double figures in 27 of 35 games and shot 49.3 percent from three-point range in UCLA's 18 Pac-12 games (68/138).
Isaac Hamilton scored a season-high 33 points, connecting on 9 of 14 three-pointers, in UCLA's 102-80 win over Arizona State (Jan. 19). He totaled 25 points in the first half in that victory. The senior guard has averaged 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He's one of three Bruins to have made at least 70 threes this year.
Lonzo Ball, a National Player of the Year Candidate, leads the nation in assists per game (7.6) and total assists (266). Averaging 14.7 ppg and 6.1 rpg, Ball has recorded 7.60 assists per game, the second-highest single-season average in school history (Pooh Richardson had 7.61 apg as a senior at UCLA in 1988-89).
TJ Leaf has scored at least 20 points in nine games. He ranks ninth in the Pac-12 in scoring (16.2 ppg) and eighth in rebounding (8.2 rpg), through Sunday, March 19. He scored a season-high 32 points and had 14 rebounds in the win at Washington State (Feb. 1), making 14 of 18 shots. Leaf has totaled a team-leading 11 double-doubles.
Thomas Welsh (10.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.35 bpg) has made 39 of 44 free throws (88.6%). The 7-foot center from Redondo Beach, Calif., averaged 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in UCLA's two NCAA Tournament victories last week. He has scored in double figures in 21 of 31 games, logging a career-high-tying 16 rebounds against USC on Feb. 18.
Aaron Holiday has averaged 12.5 points, 4.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game, appearing in all 35 games off the bench. He ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in assists per game (4.4) and seventh in three-point percentage (41.4%, 53/128), through March 19. His 41.6 career three-point percentage (92/221) ranks sixth on UCLA's career list.
Ike Anigbogu, (pronounced EE-kay ahn-ee-BOH-goo) a 6-foot-10 forward/center from Corona, Calif., has averaged 4.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.25 blocks in 12.9 minutes per game off the bench. He scored a career-high 12 points in the win at Arizona State (Feb. 23) and has twice recorded a career-high four blocks.
- G.G. Goloman has averaged 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, averaging 11.6 minutes off the bench for the Bruins. A 6-foot-10 forward from Körmend, Hungary, Goloman has totaled 29 blocks in 34 games (0.85 bpg). Goloman, who has shot 57.8 percent from the field, scored a career-high 12 points in a win over CSUN (Nov. 13).
Bryce Alford ranks first (and second) in school history in single-season three-pointers and now ranks first in career three-pointers (326). This season, Alford has made a school-record 113 triples, breaking the single-season record of 93 that he set as a sophomore in 2014-15. He has tallied at least 70 three-pointers in three consecutive seasons, becoming just the second player in school history (along with Jason Kapono), to have accomplished that feat.
UCLA will play in Memphis for the second time in four seasons. Most recently, UCLA lost as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament (South Regional, semifinal) to then-No. 1-seed Florida, 79-68, on March 27, 2014, at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. This Friday night's game against No. 2-seed Kentucky will mark UCLA' second NCAA Tournament contest played in the city of Memphis. The Bruins are facing Kentucky for the fourth time in three seasons.
This will mark UCLA's 14th appearance in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 since the tournament format expanded to at least 64 teams, starting in 1985. Previous appearances (since 1985) have included Sweet 16 trips in 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2015. Through those previous 13 appearances, the Bruins have posted a 6-7 record with four eventual trips to the Final Four (1995, 2006, 2007, 2008).
Steve Alford has led his teams to the NCAA Tournament in 10 of 22 seasons while coaching at the D-I level. In 26 seasons, 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 each time, in 2014, 2015 and 2017). 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 2006 and 2007. Prior to last week's two games in Sacramento, the Bruins had played NCAA Tournament games in California as recently as 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2014. In all, the Bruins have compiled a 29-1 record in the NCAA Tournament in contests played in the state of California.
Senior guard Bryce Alford, then a sophomore, made 9 of 11 three-point attempts to lead No. 11-seed UCLA past No. 6-seed SMU in a first-round game at the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Alford's nine triples tied a school record. UCLA won the game, 60-59, in Louisville, Ky. At the time, only Jason Kapono had previously accomplished the feat, going 9-for-10 from three-point distance in UCLA's 98-83 win at Washington State on Jan. 4, 2003 (Pullman, Wash.).
Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton have each tied that UCLA single-game record for most made three-pointers this season. Alford was 9-for-14 from long-range in UCLA's 104-89 win at Colorado on Jan. 12. He finished that game with a career-high 37 points, having connected on 11 of 18 total field goal attempts. Exactly one week later (Jan. 19), senior guard Isaac Hamilton went 9-for-14 from three-point distance in UCLA's 102-80 win at home against Arizona State.
UCLA committed just three turnovers last Sunday in the win over Cincinnati. That marked just the third time, on record, in which the Bruins had registered as few as three turnovers in one NCAA Tournament game. Previously, UCLA had three turnovers in a win over Stephen F. Austin in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament (UCLA won, 77-60). The Bruins also had just three turnovers in a 77-67 Final Four loss to Florida on March 31, 2007.
Between both games in Sacramento last weekend, UCLA turned the ball over just 10 times – seven turnovers in the 97-80 win over Kent State on March 17 and three in the 79-67 victory against Cincinnati. In fact, UCLA registered 46 assists between the two tournament games, posting an assist-turnover ratio of 4.6 to 1. Aaron Holiday had a career-high 11 assists (and scored 15 points) in the first-round victory over Kent State, while Lonzo Ball had nine assists on Sunday against Cincinnati (all in the second half of that game).

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