UCLA Men's Basketball Battles No. 1 Kentucky Saturday
December 1, 2016
The No. 11 UCLA Bruins will travel to play the No. 1 team in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. The game will be televised on Channel 2.
The Bruins are 8-0 and the Wildcats are 7-0. Both teams play up tempo basketball. "This has all the makings of a good national television game," said UCLA head coach Steve Alford after his team ran past UC Riverside 98-56 last Wednesday night at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus.
The Bruins are averaging 97 points per game and Kentucky beat Arizona State 115-69 last Monday. The game will come down to who has the better athletes right now.
"We are excited about playing Kentucky," said Alford. "Kentucky is playing well and you will see two teams that are undefeated and two teams that are playing very well and two teams that like to play fast."
UCLA will rely on a starting lineup that includes 6'3 Bryce Alford, 6'6 Lonzo Ball, 6'5 Isaac Hamilton, 6'10 TJ Leaf and 7'0 Thomas Welch. The Bruins' bench is better than last year thanks to the play of 6'1 Aaron Holiday, 6'10 Ike Anigbogu, 6'11 Gyorgy Goloman and 6'9 Ikenna Okwarabizie.
Sophomore Holiday has really improved. "Aaron is an aggressive player and we love that coming off the bench," said Alford. "He gives us some fire off the bench and he gives us enthusiasm off the bench. Aaron has done a good job of giving us that energy we need coming off the bench. We did not have that last year."
Against UC Riverside Holiday scored 18 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out five assists.
The 2016 Bruins have also become a very good passing team because of the arrival of freshman sensation Ball. He is a Magic Johnson type of player who thinks pass first and scoring second. Against Riverside Ball set a UCLA freshman record with 13 assists. He scored five points but he only shot the ball three times.
"Once again we shared the ball with 29 assists," said Alford. "We have done a phenomenal job of sharing the ball and helping each other score."