UCLA (27-3, 14-3 Pac 12) will adjourn with the regular season, when Washington State (13-16, 6-11 Pac 12) arrives to take on the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion Saturday (March 4, 2017).
The last time the two met it was in Pullman, Washington, a venue that has been disastrous for the Bruins of late, but not this time. UCLA was led by the outstanding performance of their two freshmen sensations, Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf.
Leaf led the Bruins in scoring and rebounding, notching a double-double in the process. Leaf scored 32 points and 14 boards. His 32 points was the second most by Bruin freshman behind, Don McLean’s 41 points in the 1988-89 season.
“We did a lot of good things,” Alford said during the post game presser.
“We had 25 deflections on the night which is something we wanted to do to be disruptive and that helped our offense get back in the 90's again. I thought TJ did a really good job of going at him.”
The Bruins be without the services of Leaf, who sprained his ankle last Wednesday against Washington. The Bruins hope to have Leaf back in the fold by the time the Pac 12 Tournament.
Ball was a main culprit in deflections but he did more than just deflect, he came up with five steals to go with his 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against the Cougars last month.
UCLA should finish on a high note if they play the same way in the rematch that they the first time around. The Bruins had 21 assists and only six turnovers. The Bruins shot 57.6 percent from the floor and 84.2 from the foul line.
Before the scheduled tipoff at 7:20PM PST, the Bruins will honor three seniors who have represented UCLA basketball and the University with class and distinction. The players are Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton and Jerrold Smith.
Alford will end his UCLA career among top scorers in the program’s history and that is saying something. It hasn’t always been an easy ride for Alford being the coach’s son, but he always handled himself with poise and dignity, when it would have been understandable if he went off the rails. Alford currently stands as the No. 5 all-time scorer with 1,861 points and this season broke the single season record for hitting threes with a 102 and counting. Alford leads the Pac 12 in three-point shooting percentage, hitting on 46 percent of his three point tries.
Hamilton who originally signed his letter-of-intent with UTEP was ruled ineligible his freshman season, but he didn’t hang his head. He worked hard his freshman season earning the respect of his teammates. Once Hamilton received his eligibility, he has been a solid player on both ends of the floor. Going into his senior season, Hamilton was averaging 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, and started all 68 games.
Smith started his career has a walk-on and is now on scholarship. He is one of those players that not much is written about, but whose hard work and selflessness was an inspiration to his teammates.
The game will be nationally televised by ESPN with Steve Quis doing the play-by-play and Bruin Sean Farnham analyzing the action. Jill Montgomery will be court side.
UCLA’s backup flagship station AM 1150 will broadcast the game with Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Bruin all-time great Tracy Murray (analyst) in their usual roles.
SIRIUS/XM Radio Channels 137/197 and SIRIUS App Channel 959 will also broadcast the game.