Monday, November 28, 2016

2016 Wooden Legacy Championship Game: UCLA vs Texas A&M full game

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from Clay Fowler

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No. 14 UCLA Defeats Texas A&M, Wins Wooden Legacy

NOV 27, 2016 | ucla men's basketball website | ARTICLE LINK

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Lonzo Ball totaled 16 points and a game-high 10 assists to lead No. 14 UCLA (7-0) past Texas A&M in the championship game of the Wooden Legacy on Sunday night at the Honda Center.

Isaac Hamilton scored a team-leading 17 points – all in the first half – and grabbed seven rebounds to help the Bruins secure their first outright in-season tournament title since winning the CBE Classic in Nov. 2007. Ball was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and was joined by Hamilton on the five-player All-Tournament Team.

Trailing by one point, Ball buried a three-pointer to give UCLA a 65-63 cushion with 2:40 to play, and the Bruins never trailed from that point. After Texas A&M tied the game, 65-65, TJ Leaf hit a go-ahead jump shot to make it 67-65 before Bryce Alford drained a three-point shot that pushed UCLA's margin to five points with 55 seconds left.

"With five minutes left in the game, these guys learned how to go take the win," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. "That is exciting, when you're coaching a new group like that because we are still a new team. Down the stretch they were terrific, and these two [Lonzo Ball and Isaac Hamilton] were a big part of that."

Alford and Leaf each finished with 13 points. Leaf also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

UCLA led throughout the majority of Sunday night's title game, extending its cushion to as many as nine points – 43-34 – early in the second half. Trailing 34-30 with 90 seconds left before halftime, the Bruins used a 5-0 scoring run to enter the locker room at the break with a 35-34 lead.

A layup by Alford and back-to-back three-pointers from Leaf and Alford to open the second half pushed UCLA ahead, 43-34.

Texas A&M clawed back, reducing UCLA's cushion to 45-43 on a layup by DJ Hogg at the 13:59 mark. The Aggies later took the lead, 51-50, with 10:45 to play on a three-pointer from Tonny Trocha-Morelos.

The see-saw affair continued late in the second half, as UCLA built a seven-point cushion – 60-53 – with fewer than seven minutes to go, before Texas A&M used a 10-2 scoring run over the game's next 2:56 to secure a 63-62 advantage.

Sunday's win pushed UCLA's record to 7-0, the program's best start since 2013-14 when the Bruins opened Steve Alford's first season in Westwood with an 8-0 mark.

Joining Ball and Hamilton on the All-Tournament Team included New Mexico's Tim Williams, Virginia Tech's Zach LeDay and Texas A&M's Tyler Davis.

UCLA returns to action against UC Riverside (2-3) in Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Game time is 8 p.m. UCLA's game against the Highlanders will be televised by Pac-12 Network.

The Box

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bryce Alford propels UCLA basketball past Nebraska 82-71

FULLERTON - UCLA took a record of 5-0 into its game against Nebraska on Friday in the Wooden Legacy Tournament. To Bruins coach Steve Alford, the Cornhuskers figured to be their most difficult test to date in this young season.
He said just that following Thursday’s victory over Portland.
Alford was spot on, as the Cornhuskers gave the 14th-ranked Bruins all they could handle before UCLA came away with an 82-71 victory before about 3,278 at Titan Gym.
UCLA (6-0) will now play Texas A&M for the tournament title on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at Honda Center. Texas A&M (4-1) defeated Virginia Tech 68-65.
UCLA led by 15 points at the outset of the second half, but Nebraska (4-1) was within 58-56 with 9:21 to play.
Bryce Alford led the Bruins with 18 points, including 10 big ones over the final 6:43; two were on a put-back in traffic, two more were on a tough drive to the basket.
“As a basketball player, those are the kind of moments that you live for,” Bryce Alford said. “That’s something I’ve always prided myself on is being a closer, being somebody who could make plays down the stretch, make smart plays.”
Isaac Hamilton scored 15 for the Bruins, freshman Lonzo Ball had 13 points and seven assists before he fouled out with 1:30 to play and freshman TJ Leaf and Thomas Welsh each scored 12, with Welsh also grabbing 11 rebounds.
Coach Alford was stoked that his team was tested.
“We needed this,” he said. “We hadn’t had a game like that this year yet to where adversity hit us. We played awfully well in the first half, especially defensively, and I thought we got comfortable and we became a little satisfied having a pretty decent team.”
His team did pass the test, though.
“It was a great lesson for us because Nebraska is well-coached and they guard you and I just liked how we handled adversity,” Steve Alford said.
Cornhuskers coach Tim Miles praised what he believes is a talented UCLA squad.
“UCLA is an excellent team,” he said. “Coach Alford’s got a lot of weapons on that team, a lot of different guys that can hurt you.”
One of them is Ball, who wasn’t thrilled that he fouled out, but very pleased the way his team came through.
“I think I did all right, but obviously I fouled out of the game, which I don’t want to have happen,” he said. “But Bryce stepped up and the rest of the team, they had my back. That’s the joy of this team. Everybody plays for each other, not for themselves.”
Glynn Watson Jr. led the Cornhuskers with 27 points and Tai Webster scored 19.
UCLA shot 51.6 percent from the field. Nebraska shot 38.7 percent, 28.6 in the first half.
The Bruins got off to a quick start and led 6-0 thanks to a couple of 3-pointers by Leaf. But UCLA then went cold, making just 2 of 11 shots. It wasn’t a big issue because the Cornhuskers weren’t making anything, either.
Nebraska did take a lead of 10-9 on a 3-point basket by Anton Gill with 12:23 left in the half. Ball responded with a 3-pointer of his own and UCLA had the lead back at 12-10.
Up 16-13, the Bruins made it 18-13 when Thomas Welsh took a lob pass from Aaron Holiday and threw down a dunk that brought the pro-UCLA crowd to its feet. Bryce Alford then hit a 16-footer and the Bruins were ahead 20-13.
Nebraska stayed close and trailed just 22-19 with 5:34 left before the break. Then the Bruins embarked on a 9-0 run that was culminated by a 3-pointer by Hamilton for a 31-19 cushion.
The UCLA faithful was getting louder by the moment.
A basket by the Cornhuskers’ Webster pulled Nebraska within 31-21, but Ball responded with a 3-point basket that went through the net as he was hitting the floor with his backside for a 34-21 lead.
Welsh had the final word when he sank an 18-footer just before halftime, giving the Bruins a 38-25 margin heading into the locker room.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Meet the 4-1 Texas A&M Aggies

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ESPN videos on UCLA vs Nebraska game

UCLA vs Portland full game video Nov 24 2016

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No. 14 UCLA Advances With 82-71 Win Over Nebraska

NOV 25, 2016 | ucla men's basketball website | ARTICLE LINK

FULLERTON, Calif. – Bryce Alford scored a team-high 18 points and Lonzo Ball had 13 points and seven assists as No. 14 UCLA advanced to the Wooden Legacy championship game with an 82-71 win over Nebraska on Friday night.

The Bruins (6-0) led at halftime, 38-25, and saw their cushion fall to as few as five points with 4:29 left in the second half.

A step-back three-pointer by Isaac Hamilton gave UCLA a 72-64 lead with 3:38 to play and, after a layup by Nebraska's Tai Webster, TJ Leaf nailed a jump shot with 2:57 to go, putting the Bruins back ahead by eight.

Nebraska guard Glynn Watson Jr. scored a game-high 27 points, connecting on 10 of 18 shots and 3 of 7 attempts from beyond the three-point arc.

Hamilton finished with 15 points and five rebounds, Leaf logged 12 points, four rebounds and four assists and Thomas Welsh had his fourth double-double in six games (12 points, 11 rebounds). In all, UCLA had five players who scored in double figures.

"I told the team that we needed this game," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. "We haven't had a game like that this year where adversity hit us. We played awfully well in the first half, defensively, and felt we got comfortable and satisfied. It was a great lesson for us. Nebraska is a well-coached team and they guarded us well."

Friday's win also saw the return – and official collegiate debut – of freshman forward/center Ike Anigbogu, a 6-foot-10 standout from Corona, Calif., who missed the season's first four weeks with a right knee injury. Anigbogu had two points, two rebounds and two blocks in six minutes off the bench.

UCLA's 11-point win over the Cornhuskers (4-1) propelled the Bruins into the championship game against Texas A&M on Sunday, Nov. 27, at the Honda Center (Anaheim). The Bruins and Aggies will play at 5:30 p.m. (PT) in a title tilt that will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Against Nebraska on Friday, Ball was particularly efficient for the Bruins. The 6-foot-6 freshman guard made 5 of 9 shots from the field – including 3 of 5 attempts from three-point range – and had seven assists and just one turnover. Ball played through the latter portion of the second half in foul trouble before drawing his fifth foul with 90 seconds to play.

Ball opened the game's second half with a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk, just eight seconds after halftime. Leaf, a freshman 6-foot-10 forward, found his classmate open and moving on the baseline, connecting with a perfect pass to a rising Ball. The thunderous dunk put UCLA ahead 40-25, before Nebraska cut its deficit to three points – 51-48 – over the next six minutes.

With UCLA ahead 49-37 at the 16:07 mark, Nebraska had a layup from Watson Jr. and a three-pointer and ensuing layup from Webster to cut the Bruins' margin to 49-44.

Leading 51-48 and Nebraska looking to tie the game, Ball hit a clutch three-pointer with 12:23 to play and give UCLA a 54-48 cushion.

Every time Nebraska pulled to within two or three points, UCLA had an answer. After a Watson Jr. three-pointer pulled the Huskers to 58-56 at the 9:26 mark, Ball found an open Hamilton, who hit a three-pointer, before Holiday drove to the hoop for a layup and a UCLA seven-point cushion.

UCLA finished the semifinal game with 21 assists and just eight turnovers, giving the team season totals of 150 assists and 70 turnovers – good for a 2.1 assist-turnover ratio.

The Box

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Lonzo Ball leads undefeated UCLA basketball past Portland 99-77

NOV 24, 2016 | tim tuttle | L.A. daily news | ARTICLE LINK

FULLERTON >> No. 14 UCLA rolled to a runaway first-round victory Thursday in the Wooden Legacy, blasting Portland, 99-77, Cal State Fullerton.
Star freshman Lonzo Ball scored 18 points and had 11 assists for the Bruins. He sat out the final 8:15.
The Bruins (5-0) play Nebraska (4-0), which held on to defeat Dayton, 80-78, in the second round tonight at 9 p.m. in Titan Gym. The Wooden Legacy’s championship game is Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at the Honda Center.
”We play a Big Ten team, an unbeaten team, tomorrow and it’s the best team we’ve played and our biggest test all year,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “Lonzo and TJ (Leaf) are learning as they go and they’ve doing a great job. “I think he (Ball) had a little slow starttonight, particularly defensively, but these guys feed off him, these guys trust him. When he gets rolling, he gets the team rolling.”
UCLA, primarily thanks for Ball’s passing, had six players score in double figures. Thomas Welch and Isaac Hamilton had 16 each, Leaf and Aaron Holiday 14 each and Bryce Alford 13.
Ball made 6-of-9 field goal attempts including 4-of-7 3 pointers, was 2-of-3 at the foul line and had 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
Welch, the 7-foot junior center from Redondo Beach and LA Loyola High, knocked down open medium range jumpers, making 8-of-10, en route to his season high. He also had a game-high 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 Leaf, a freshman from El Cajon, made 6-of-9 field goal attempts including one 3-pointer and added 9 rebounds.
Portland (3-1) held one possession leads on four occasions in the first half, the last time at 27-26, but the Bruins pulled way with an 11-5 spurt in the final four minutes for a 45-37 advantage at intermission.
Ball’s 3-pointer from the corner gave UCLA a 43-35 lead, its largest of the half.
UCLA opened the second half with a 17-4 run to take a 62-41 lead with 16 minutes to play.
Ball began the barrage with a 3-pointer from the corner and had a 3-pointer from the deep wing to end it. In between, Welch made a trio of 15-foot jumpers.

2016 Wooden Legacy - Meet the Nebraska Cornhuskers

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Nebraska Cornhuskers profile, schedule, scores on ESPN (link)

2016 Wooden Legacy: UCLA vs Portland 'sorta' Lonzo highlight reels

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2016 Wooden Legacy: No. 14 UCLA Takes Down Portland, 99-77


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FULLERTON, Calif. – Freshman Lonzo Ball had 18 points and 11 assists and Thomas Welsh registered 16 points and 10 rebounds as No. 14 UCLA defeated Portland, 99-77, in a first-round game of the Wooden Legacy on Thursday night.

Ball logged his third double-double in five games for UCLA (5-0), finishing with 11 assists and just two turnovers over 27 minutes. The 6-foot-6 guard from Chino Hills, Calif., made 6 of 9 shots, including 4 of 7 3-point attempts.

In all, the Bruins finished with six players scoring in double figures. Aside from Ball and Welsh, Isaac Hamilton had 16 points, Aaron Holiday and TJ Leaf each scored 14 and Bryce Alford totaled 13.

"We're really sharing the ball," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. "We had six people in double figures, so we have a really good balance. We can beat you inside or outside. I didn't like our start defensively and didn't like our mindset. I thought as the game went on, we picked up our intensity."

UCLA's 99 points on Thursday on the campus of Cal State Fullerton marked a single-game record in the history of the Wooden Legacy and the Wooden Classic (dating back 22 years).

Hamilton also added to the Bruins' list of milestones. The senior guard drilled a 3-pointer with 19 minutes to go in the second half, pushing his career point total past 1,000. He became the 54th player in program history to have reached that career mark.

Leaf finished one rebound shy of a double-double, totaling 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Jazz Johnson scored a game-high 25 points for Portland (3-1), which trailed the Bruins at halftime by a 45-37 margin.

Leading 51-41 with 18:47 left in the contest, UCLA used an 11-0 scoring run over the game's next three minutes to secure a 62-41 cushion. That 11-point span featured three jump shots from Welsh and was capped by a 3-pointer from Ball. The Bruins pushed their advantage to 25 points – 72-47 – with 10:32 left in the second half.

The first half was not as decisive as the second. UCLA led 34-32 with 4:17 to play before intermission before Alford and Hamilton hit back-to-back layups. Portland answered with a 3-pointer from Rashad Jackson, cutting the margin to 38-35, before UCLA closed the opening half with a 7-2 scoring run.

Both teams finished with 14 3-pointers – the Bruins made 14 of 29 shots from long range while the Pilots were 14 of 32 from beyond the arc.

UCLA will face Nebraska (4-0) in a semifinal contest of the Wooden Legacy on Friday night. Game time at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Gym is 9 p.m. (PT). The Bruins' game will be televised on ESPN2.

Portland moves on to face Dayton in a consolation game on Friday at 6:30 pm (PT).

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Oh, Canada!!!

from SLAM No. 203 Dec 2016 
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Jordin Canada Named Pac-12 Player of the Week Nov 21 2016 (link)
Jordin Canada's profile on UCLA Women's Basketball page (link)

Jordin Canada Named Pac-12 Player of the Week

The junior guard recorded just the sixth double-double in UCLA history this week while also scoring her 1,000th career point.

UCLA Women's Basketball | November 21, 2016 | Link

SOCIAL MEDIA: WBB on Twitter | WBB on Facebook | WBB on Instagram

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (AP) -- UCLA junior Jordin Canada (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward) was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week today as announced by the league.

Canada led the Bruins to a 2-1 week by averaging 17.7 points, 9.0 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game while shooting 46.3 percent (19-for-41) from the field and 100 percent (15-for-15) from the free throw line.

The 5-foot-6 guard recorded the sixth triple-double in UCLA history and the first since 2012 when she had 11 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists in a home win over Southern on Nov. 18.

She nearly had the first back-to-back triple-double in UCLA history and the first in the Pac-12 since 2002 but finished one assist shy with 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a home win over Cal Poly on Nov. 20.

Canada began the week with 23 points, six assists, four steals and three boards in a loss at #2 Baylor (Nov. 14).

She also became the 32nd player in UCLA history to surpass the 1,000-point mark in her career in the same game as the triple-double.

When asked about it by the Associated Press, Canada said "It's also an honor. It's a great feeling to know that I've put in the work. I'm very proud of myself, but it's not all about points. Yes, it's a great honor, but it's not everything."

ALSO NOMINATED: Labrittney Jones, ARIZ; Kristine Anigwe, CAL; Haley Smith, COLO; Marie Gulich, OSU; Brittany McPhee, STAN; Minyon Moore, USC; Emily Potter, UTAH; Kelsey Plum, WASH; Louise Brown, WSU.

Oh, Canada!!! (SLAM No. 203 Dec 2016) (link)
Jordin Canada's profile on UCLA Women's Basketball page (link)

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).

Unbeaten Bruins could have their first taste of adversity in Wooden Legacy tournament

Steve Alford knows it’s coming despite the high-scoring romps, the nonstop ball movement, the feeling that UCLA’s early season euphoria might stretch all the way into late March.
There will be a time when the shots don’t fall so easily, the ball gets stuck in a few players’ hands, the scoreboard defies the Bruins. Only then will UCLA learn whether it has the resolve to go with its talent.
“Adversity hasn’t hit,” said Alford, whose team has defeated its four opponents by an average of 27.8 points, “and that sometimes can help build things or it can rip things apart. There’s going to be adversity hit at some point. How do we handle that? How do we handle a close game? Where does the ball go? Who takes the shot? How do we get the stop?
“These are all things that this team hasn’t endured yet that we will endure. I’m anxious to see how we respond to it because we’ve got a great group of guys that really care.”
The No. 14 Bruins (4-0) could find out during an upcoming stretch that will be their toughest in a young season. They will open the Wooden Legacy on Thursday night at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Gym against Portland (3-0), the start of a three-games-in-four-days test that could include two bedtime starts.
The winner of UCLA’s first game will play either Dayton or Nebraska at 9 p.m. Friday, leading to a daylong wait.
“Those late games, sometimes you get caught sitting in a hotel room all day, so I’m sure the coaches will do a good job of letting us get out, letting us go on a walk, do something,” Bruins guard Bryce Alford said. “Usually we get out of the hotel room just so we’re not so anxious, because we’re so ready to play …. That’s a challenge, but I think we’ll handle it pretty well.”
UCLA will play its final game in the tournament Sunday at the Honda Center in Anaheim against either Virginia Tech, New Mexico, Texas A&M or CSUN. The Bruins already defeated CSUN, 102-87, earlier this month.
Steve Alford said he wasn’t thinking about a possible championship matchup because the three potential opponents on UCLA’s half of the bracket have a combined 8-1 record.
“The competition will bring the best out of us,” Bruins guard Isaac Hamilton said. “We just have to be a little nastier on defense to get more stops.”
This will be UCLA’s first appearance in the tournament formerly known as the 76 Classic since a 2009 performance at the Anaheim Convention Center that included an opening-round loss to Portland as part of an 0-3 weekend.
These Pilots have some similarities to the Bruins, at least stylistically. They like to push the pace and feature a star guard in senior Alec Wintering, a first-team All-West Coast Conference selection last season who leads the team with averages of 19.0 points and 8.0 assists per game. Portland also has a stretch power forward in junior Gabe Taylor, who has made 44.4% of his three-point attempts while leading the Pilots with 8.0 rebounds per game.
Like UCLA, Portland has also routed its early opponents, winning its games by an average of 25 points.
UCLA’s willingness to share the ball could gird the Bruins for the inevitable hardship that awaits this season. Freshmen Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf have been among the team’s best passers, winning the immediate respect of more veteran players and leading to cohesiveness. Six UCLA players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Leaf’s 20.3 points per game.
“Whoever’s hot that night we’re going to continue to feed him,” Bryce Alford said, “and if we’re all hot then we’re just going to keep sharing.”
The unselfish approach has led to what could be UCLA’s early season mantra: The team that slays together stays together.
When: Thursday, 8 p.m. PST.
Where: Titan Gym at Cal State Fullerton.
On the air: TV: ESPN2; Radio: 570.
Update: UCLA (4-0) expects freshman forward-center Ike Anigbogu to make his season debut at some point during the three-game Wooden Legacy, possibly in the opener against Portland (3-0). Anigbogu has been sidelined since last month after undergoing surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee.
Bruins Coach Steve Alford is familiar with Portland counterpart Terry Porter, having faced him in the NBA when Porter was an All-Star point guard with the Portland Trail Blazers. Porter had stints as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns before the Pilots hired him in April.
Portland assistant coach Bob Cantu is a former assistant and interim head coach at USC.