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News Roundup: UCLA Basketball Championship Talk

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For now the Wooden Legacy Title, later . . .

Bryce took over late for another UCLA win
Bryce took over late for another UCLA win
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

As Nirya mentioned, the 82-71 win over Nebraska was Bryce's. But really it wasn't Bryce's til the end as it was another balanced effort.

UCLA's balanced attack still proved too much for the Cornhuskers (4-1).

Bryce Alford scored 11 of his team-high 18 points in the game's final six minutes to lead five Bruins in double figures.

"That's something I've always prided myself on -€” being a closer," the senior guard said.

Ball finished with 13 points and seven assists. Guard Isaac Hamilton added 15 points and five rebounds, while T.J. Leaf and Thomas Welch added 12 points each.

As Nebraska coach Tim Miles said:

UCLA is an excellent team. Coach Alford has a lot of weapons on that team, a lot of guys that can hurt you. I thought we were tentative in the first half and that is not like us -€” second half is more of a snapshot of what we're like. But every time we got the game down to two or three points, they answered. Alford made some tough shots, Holiday made some shots and they hurt us.

Steve Alford was proud of the Bruins overcoming the adversity of their first close game.

I told the team that we needed this game. 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. I liked how we handled adversity, especially after their guard hurt us. The backboard hurt us in the second half a lot. We had adversity, Lonzo [Ball] fouled out and we haven't had to deal with that yet. We haven't had to deal with getting punched in the face like we got punched, and I liked how we responded.

Even though he fouled out Ball still put on a show:

On the first play of the second half, Ball wowed the crowd when he converted an alley-opp pass from Leaf.

He had many more highlight-reel plays after that. Midway through the second half, he tried to convert an alley-oop pass that was just off the mark. It didn't fall, but he tipped in his own miss for the score.

As Joe blogged the other issue was Lonzo's Dad LaVar Ball's predictions. As Steve Alford said:

That's LaVar [Ball] and that's what makes LaVar special. It's what he has demanded out of all three of his boys and that's excellence. That's what we are at UCLA -€” we are trying to achieve excellence and doing everything we can to get to that point. This is a fun team but we have a long way to go. We are a good team and we are trying to become a great team. I love this team.

Lonzo had a good take on his Dad's predictions on UCLA title run:

I'm thankful that's how he is, loud. I'm his son, so why wouldn't he want the best from me?

Now it is on to the title game Sunday against Texas A &M and the first possible "championship" in the Wooden Legacy. As Steve Alford said:

Coach Wooden's name is on it and what he means to our institution and his legacy of creating excellence both in the classroom and on the basketball court. That is something our guys take seriously. Secondly, we have talked about this as a team and it's our first chance to win a championship. It doesn't mean that you'll have postseason success but the Final Four teams last year all won an exempt tournament. If that is a goal of ours, as it is, we want to take those steps towards trying to get to that point. Knowing that this championship could have Coach Wooden's name on it is an extra bonus.

Go Bruins!