Saturday, 23 December 2017 16:22

Bruins Head To NOLA To Play Wildcats

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Welsh T McNeeseStIf UCLA (8-3) is going to be able to prevail against No. 7 Kentucky (9-1) in New Orleans, the Bruins will have to play the kind of basketball they did coming out in the second half against South Dakota when they built a 24-point lead.

The Bruins will lose if they suffer point droughts as they have in their last three games, two of which ended up as losses. If the Bruins allow Kentucky to go on a 28-7 run like South Dakota did in the last game odds are the Bruins won’t survive. UCLA can’t make things difficult on themselves and must be almost flawless.

The two historic programs have seen quite a bit of each other lately. This will be the fifth time the Bruins and the Wildcats have faced off in the past four years, each squad has won two games apiece.

That doesn’t mean the players are familiar with each other. There have been significant roster changes in just one year. Only one Wildcat, sophomore Wenyen Gabriel (6-9, 205) played against the Bruins last season. Gabriel averaged 11.5 minutes in both games against UCLA. Seniors, Thomas Welsh and GG Golomon, along with junior Aaron Holiday all saw action for the Bruins against Kentucky last year.

Kentucky currently has four players who are scoring in double figures. Freshman forward Kevin Knox (6-9, 215) has led the way (15.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg) while redshirt freshman guard Hamidou Diallo (6-5, 198) is chipping in 15.2 ppg. Freshman guard, Quade Green (6-0, 180), averages 11.0 ppg and freshman guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (6-6, 180) contributes 10.0 ppg. Just missing averaging in double figures is freshman forward, P.J. Washington (6-7, 236) is averaging 9.8 ppg.

Kentucky's only loss this season came to then-No. 4 Kansas (65-61) at Chicago's United Center in the Champions Classic on Nov. 14.

Thomas Welsh, is coming off a superb game, scoring 19 points, coming down with 11 rebounds, had three blocked shots and had four assists.

Aaron Holiday scored 15 points and had a team-high, five assists. GG Golomon scored 12 points, Jaylen Hands added 12 points off the bench and Chris Smith chipped in 10 points off the bench in UCLA’s last game.

The game will be played at the Smoothie King Center, a venue that holds 17,791 fans. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM. PST.

The contest will be televised nationally on CBS with Brad Nessler handling the play-by-play, Bill Raftery analyzing the action, and Allie LaForce reporting from courtside.

If you are out and about this busy holiday season you can tune into UCLA Sports Network from IMG on AM 570 and listen to the excitement with Josh Lewin and UCLA great Tracy Murray will perform their usual roles.

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