Sunday, March 26, 2017

UCLA's Tournament Run Ends with Loss to Kentucky 86-75

from NCAA March Madness


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – UCLA's NCAA Tournament run ended in the Round of 16 with an 86-75 loss to No. 2-seed Kentucky on Friday evening before 17,532 at FedExForum.
The No. 3-seed Bruins finished their 2016-17 season with a 31-5 overall record, logging the program's highest single-season win total since 2008.
TJ Leaf and Isaac Hamilton led the Bruins with 17 points each, and Bryce Alford finished with 13 points. Lonzo Ball had 10 points, and his eight assists moved him past Jason Kidd into second place on the Pac-12's single-season assists list with 274.
Friday night's game marked the final collegiate contest for Alford and Hamilton, who are both on track to graduate this year.
"Somebody that was really good wasn't going to win this game," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. "I'm just really proud of our basketball team. I've been in the locker room telling them that. To have a group of young men, and it starts with my two seniors who've just had brilliant careers, not just on the court, but how they've grown as young men. And that's what the college experience is supposed to be all about."

UCLA's Postgame Press Conference
The Bruins were trailing at halftime, 36-33, after a first half that featured 13 lead changes.
Kentucky's freshman duo of De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk combined for 60 of the Wildcats' 86 points. Fox and Monk registered 38 of Kentucky's 50 second-half points. Fox scored a career-high 39 points while Monk added 21.
Dominique Hawkins was the only other Wildcat player to score in double figures, totaling 11 points.
UCLA shot 52.7% to Kentucky's 49.2%, but the Wildcats scored 14 points off 13 UCLA turnovers. Kentucky committed just six turnovers, of which the Bruins could only convert into two points.
The first half was a close affair that saw 13 lead changes. A Leaf layup gave UCLA a 26-25 advantage with 4:30 to play, but Isaiah Briscoe hit a three-pointer at 3:27 to regain a lead the Wildcats would not relinquish.
The Bruins were playing in their third Sweet 16 in four years. No. 2-seed Kentucky won its 14th straight game and will face No. 1 seed North Carolina in the Elite Eight on Sunday at FedExForum.

The Final Box for the season

Thanks, UCLA!!! Good luck to Bryce, Isaac, Jerrod and Zo!!! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

News Conference: Sweet 16 Preview

NCAA March Madness

How will UCLA’s December win at Kentucky affect teams’ Sweet 16 matchup?

UCLA's Lonzo Ball, right, looks for a teammate while guarded by Kentucky's Malik Monk during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp, file) 

3-22-2017 | CLAY FOWLER  | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin-THE L.A. DAILY NEWS | ARTICLE LINK
Familiar NCAA Tournament opponents are uncommon by design.
Conference foes are strategically disbursed to all corners of the country. Sprinkle in a healthy dose of mid-majors and the chances for a rematch with any team on the regular season schedule are slim.
UCLA and Kentucky are apparently the exception.
The two blue blood programs who have faced each other in nonconference play the past three seasons landed in the same regional semifinal on Friday. It is the only Sweet 16 matchup in the NCAA Tournament that pits two teams who already faced each other this season.
The Bruins snapped Kentucky’s 42-game winning streak in Rupp Arena with a 97-92 victory Dec. 3 that put the rest of college basketball on notice. UCLA’s signature win this season was powerful enough to vault it into the national championship conversation nine games removed from a sub-.500 season.
Three months later, the Final Four isn’t just a talking point. It’s a fast-approaching destination.
UCLA and Kentucky being familiar with each other can be spun a number of ways. UCLA not only won Dec. 3, but did so in Lexington. Of course, a spurned Kentucky team won’t just be dangerous because it’s difficult to beat a team twice in one season. The Wildcats are one of the best teams in the country.
The big question is, how much will the Dec. 3 result affect Friday’s rematch?
“To be honest, I don’t think the first game really means anything now,” UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball said. “Both teams were young. I think they got better. I think we got better.”
Kentucky was the lone spike in a nonconference schedule for UCLA that didn’t pan out otherwise. Not until a late-season run by Michigan gave them another opponent outside the top-heavy Pac-12 that moved the needle on the Bruins’ NCAA Tournament resume.
Historically quality programs Texas A&M and Ohio State struggled to meet their standards this season after falling to UCLA, finishing 10th and 11th, respectively, in the SEC and Big Ten. The Bruins missed the chance to face NCAA Tournament qualifier Dayton in November’s Wooden Legacy, instead drawing a Nebraska team that won just six games in the Big Ten.
Kentucky, however, did just fine for itself. UCLA may have knocked the Wildcats from their perch at No. 1 in the country, but Kentucky went on to finish the regular season 29-5 and win the SEC by two games.
Considering the number of freshman on both the UCLA and Kentucky rosters, it’s believable that each is a considerably different team after running the gauntlet in conferences that landed a combined six teams in the Sweet 16.
“Both of us have been through the grind of an 18- to 20-game conference season and that’s where you really learn a lot about yourself because you’re so scouted,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “You get to play teams twice...and there’s all sorts of scout tapes out there. You’ve just seen them evolve as an offensive-defensive team and they’re much better than they were in December.”
Ball and classmate TJ Leaf have been impressive wire-to-wire this season with a few exceptions, but they are certainly more polished than they were in November.
The UCLA duo may join Kentucky’s freshman trio of De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Edrice Adabayo in the NBA draft lottery in a few months.
The abundant youth on both sides may look a little more seasoned now than three months ago, but one thing unchanged since December is the preferred pace of both teams. By all accounts, the tempo on Friday will be quick for two of the nine highest-scoring teams in the country.
“I think this is a game that’s going to be very similar, at least pace-wise. Alford said. “They’re really, really good in transition and I think we’re at our best in transition.”
Of course, Alford allowed that the NCAA Tournament can slow even the fastest of breaks, much like the style in the NBA playoffs can grind the game to a halt.
In other words, the UCLA coach left the door open for Friday’s game to look nothing like the Bruins’ meeting with Kentucky earlier this season.
There is at least one prospective similarity of great concern to UCLA. The result.
“The stakes are a lot higher,” Leaf said. “It’s going to be a completely different game than the first one.”

Steve Alford has UCLA winning — and Indiana waiting

3-22-2017 | mark Whicker | THE L.A. daily newS | ARTICLE LINK
Dan Dakich has seen five Indiana coaches come and go, including himself.
“One thing people need to remember,” he said. “Coaching Indiana never ends well.”
In fact, he makes Indiana sound a lot like UCLA, without the Land Rovers.
Dakich played at Indiana, famously defending Michael Jordan in a 1984 NCAA Tournament upset, and then coached at Bowling Green.
He was Indiana’s interim coach when Kelvin Sampson was fired, and he got the Hoosiers into the NCAA Tournament but wasn’t retained.
He does Indianapolis sports-talk and analyzes Big Ten games for ESPN. His son Andrew plays at Michigan and was in that plane crash before the Big Ten tournament.
Dakich also lambasted Bob Knight, his former coach, when Knight wouldn’t let his animus toward university officials allow him to attend the 40th reunion of the undefeated 1976 NCAA champs.
So Dakich knows which way the sycamores bend.
And he knows Steve Alford.
“I was here before him and I’ve been here after him,” Dakich said, “and there’s never been anyone at Indiana who’s been more popular than Steve.”
Alford coaches UCLA into the NCAA’s Final 16 for the third time in his four seasons, beginning Friday.
The difference here is the Bruins have a chance to survive the Memphis minefield — even with Kentucky, North Carolina and Butler in the building — and reach the Final Four and win that.
The other difference is that the Indiana job is waiting there like an easy chair on the beach. Tellingly, it remains empty.
Athletic Director Fred Glass stressed his desire for a Hoosier at the helm. That would seem to narrow the field to Alford, Michigan State assistant Dane Fife and three former NBA head coaches: Mike Woodson and Lawrence Frank, both Clippers assistants, and Randy Wittman.
“The Indiana family, those on the inside, would definitely want him,” Dakich said. “Whether that means he’ll come is another question.”
There has rarely been a better time to coach Indiana.
The Hoosiers were 7-11 in the Big Ten yet lose only one senior from a roster rich enough to beat Kansas and North Carolina.
Knight, and his shadow, departed 17 years ago.
Glass is a lawyer and an IU nostalgist who got his bachelor’s degree in 1981, a championship year for the Hoosiers.
Assistant AD Scott Dolson was a manager on Alford’s Hoosier teams and is a close friend.
And there has rarely been a better time to leave UCLA.
Lonzo Ball, Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton and probably TJ Leaf are playing their final college games.
LiAngelo Ball, the middle brother, is part of another heralded recruiting class, but what if he doesn’t have Lonzo’s impact, and isn’t used the way LaVar Ball prefers?
That could cause hypertension, as will the inevitable letdown. No possible 2018 Bruins team will be as lethal or captivating as this one.
And that would remind the angry amnesiacs in UCLA’s base that Alford gave back a year of his contract last spring and apologized for a losing season.
Somebody paid a pilot to fly over Westwood with a “Fire Alford” streamer.
Alford could perform a double-pump payback by flying home, particularly if he has an NCAA title ring.
But Dakich does not think Alford thinks that way.
He says Alford actually got a perverse kick out of the enemy aircraft, because he thrives under incoming fire, as does his oft-criticized son.
The family reaction is not “buzz off.” It’s “game on.”
“It’s weird,” Dakich said. “I’m the same way. I guess when you play for Coach Knight you get that way. You kind of enjoy it when it gets tough.”
Marty Simmons, the Evansville coach who played at IU when Alford did, says Alford is more than comfortable in Westwood.
“I’ve heard him say nothing except how much he and his family love it there,” Simmons said. “He was honored when UCLA called him. He enjoys it. But people here still hold him in the same esteem.”
And nobody really thinks the money is a stumbling block, either, even though Alford would owe UCLA $7.8 million if he leaves before April, and the Hoosiers owe Crean $4 million if he doesn’t get another job.
“We have penny millionaires here,” Dakich said. “They have real millionaires out there (L.A.).
“We have people who put up $50 and think that entitles them to be in the Cabinet. But if it’s supposed to happen I don’t think that will get in the way.”
The more the Bruins win, the tougher the call. But because Alford knows the nature of applause, and especially how it sounds when it stops, he wins either way.

NCAA Tournament: UCLA, Kentucky don’t mind crowded backcourts

mar 21, 2017 | clay fowler  | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin-THE L.A. daily newS | ARTICLE LINK
LOS ANGELES >> It sounded almost revolutionary when Steve Alford said it earlier this season.
None of the four guards in UCLA’s rotation has a defined position. Put another way, they can all play any position in the backcourt.
The versatility is one tool that speeds up the Bruins’ lethal transition game. It doesn’t matter who gets the rebound, even if it’s power forward TJ Leaf. Whoever has the ball is off and running.
“We don’t have to look for anybody,” UCLA shooting guard Bryce Alford said. “We just play.”
There is at least one other college basketball team that can say the same, and it happens to be UCLA’s opponent in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 on Friday.
Kentucky starts a three-guard lineup, two of whom average more than four assists. The third is Malik Monk, who might have played point guard during what figures to be his lone season at Kentucky if De’Aaron Fox wasn’t in his recruiting class.
Fox is to Kentucky what Lonzo Ball is to UCLA. The freshmen are two of the best point guards in the country.
Do they make their teammates look good or is it the other way around? That question is probably easier to answer now than it was when UCLA left Kentucky with a 97-92 win over the then-top-ranked Wildcats on Dec. 3.
Their guards might be capable of playing versatile roles, but both teams now know who their primary distributors are and how much they mean to their teams.
“I think Kentucky’s more about Fox engineering what they do and obviously as this season’s evolved we’ve really liked what ’Zo has been able to do engineering our team,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “And Aaron (Holiday) is somebody we’ve gotten off the ball a little more just because he’s shot the ball so well again this year.”
Holiday, a 6-foot-1 sophomore projects as a point guard at the next level, is shooting 49 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range. Ball’s percentages are 56 and 42, respectively. The ability to score is there in spades.
But Ball is the country’s assist leader - he averaged 7.6 per game - and facilitates the highest-scoring offense in the country.
And Holiday has an 11-assist game to his credit in this NCAA Tournament.
Between them, Alford and the third guard in UCLA’s starting lineup, Isaac Hamilton, average more than five assists per game. Holiday averages 4.4 off the bench.
It all adds up to a nation-leading 21.6 assists per game, the highest mark in college basketball since UNLV’s 1991 team averaged 24.7 on its way to the Final Four.
“We don’t have set-in-stone positions,” Bryce Alford said. “That’s the freedom that the coaches give us and I think we’ve earned that with the way we’ve played offensively and just how unselfish we are.”
UCLA’s 90.2 points per game average leads the nation, but Kentucky’s 85.2 isn’t far behind (ninth).
Fox might not be the pure passer that Ball is, but healthy averages of 16.1 points and 4.6 assists suit Kentucky just fine.
Monk’s 20 points per game make him the fourth highest scorer in the country among power five conference players. Sophomore Isaiah Briscoe, a starter for the second consecutive season, pushes Kentucky’s offensive numbers to another level with 12.4 points and 4.1 assists per game.
To illustrate the depth of Kentucky’s backcourt, there are two other guards who play more than 10 minutes per game.
“Obviously it’s not going to be an easy cover for anybody,” Ball said of Kentucky’s arsenal of guards. “But why would you want to play an easy game in the Sweet 16.”
Who: No. 3 UCLA vs No. 2 Kentucky
What: NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal
Where: FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn.
When: Friday, 6:40 p.m.
TV/Radio: KCBS/2, KLAC/570

Critics come with the territory for Kentucky Coach John Calipari

FedExForum was once the place where John Calipari’s teams delivered victory by 10:30 p.m.
His Memphis Tigers played their home games inside the arena they shared with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, rarely losing in the years before Calipari departed to become Kentucky’s coach in 2009.
That would seem to make the venue for the NCAA tournament’s South Regional semifinal between Calipari’s second-seeded Wildcats and UCLA counterpart Steve Alford’s third-seeded Bruins on Friday evening feel like a welcoming spot for Kentucky.
Cal coached there, so it’s like I’m playing Kentucky for the second straight time at home,” Alford said, alluding to the Bruins’ 97-92 victory over the Wildcats in December at Rupp Arena.
There’s only one problem involving the story line: It may be only partially true. Any advantage Kentucky derives from familiarity and geography — the game will be played roughly 425 miles from Lexington, Ky. — may be offset by the Southern discomfort Calipari feels upon his return to Memphis.
The city that Calipari galvanized with four deep NCAA tournament runs, including an appearance in the national championship game in 2008, was jilted by his departure a year later.
Calipari didn’t just leave, he took star recruits John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins with him to Kentucky. Left behind was an issue with Tigers star Derrick Rose’s college transcript, which later forced Memphis to forfeit all of its victories from the 2007-08 season.
Memphis’ feelings about Calipari became clear in 2015 when the university announced plans for a dinner in Calipari’s honor for being selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame … only to cancel it after a flood of vitriol was directed at the departed coach.

Geoff Calkins, a columnist for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, solicited opinions on Calipari from locals after the Wildcats secured their trip here by beating Wichita State in the second round. Some were supportive and gracious, thanking Calipari for elevating Tigers basketball back to national prominence. Many others were less hospitable, referring to him in such terms as “a craven huckster opportunist” and “self-serving jerk.”
Perhaps Calipari should be grateful that locals are allotted only a small portion of the 18,119 tickets for each game. Memphis is expected to be largely overrun by supportive Kentucky fans who will surely try to drown out any boos directed at their beloved coach.
Calipari’s itinerary won’t just involve the game. He said on his radio show that he would go to Gibson’s Donuts, attend Friday Mass at the church he once frequented and drive by his old house. He also planned to attend an event with friends Wednesday alongside his wife, Ellen.
“When we land, we’re going right there,” Calipari said. “Come on, hey, everybody hug, OK, I’ve got to go work. It’s great seeing you. I saw everybody, right? Touched everybody? Great. Now, no one’s mad? Everybody’s good? All right. See you later. Enjoy the game. I’ll see you on Friday.”
The Wildcats won’t have to travel far for the game. They will stay at the Westin hotel, directly across the street from FedExForum.
UCLA also has a history at the nearly 13-year-old arena, albeit a much shorter one. The Bruins advanced to a regional semifinal here in 2014, playing Florida in another matchup against a storied Southeastern Conference team.
UCLA was trailing by only three points when point guard Kyle Anderson went to the bench midway through the second half. By the time he returned, the Bruins were down by eight on the way to a 79-68 loss. On the court during the Gators’ run: UCLA freshman guard Bryce Alford.
“I had a much different role then than I did now,” said Alford, now a senior, “but it will be good to get back in that arena playing somewhere that I’m somewhat familiar with. I know it will be better than playing a Sweet 16 game in a football arena. I know I didn’t like that too much my sophomore year.”
Alford was referring to Reliant Stadium in Houston, where the Bruins fell to Gonzaga in a 2015 regional semifinal. Alford made three of 11 shots during his team’s 74-62 setback.
UCLA has not advanced to a regional final since it went to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08. The final year of that run was also the last time Calipari guided Memphis to basketball’s biggest stage.
“I can put it this way: My teams haven’t lost many in that building,” Calipari said.
Many of the natives would, no doubt, appreciate one more.

MM 2017: South Sweet 16 team stats




Who them?

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.

Story Links

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).