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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Looking Ahead To Kentucky

UCR game was but a prelude to the main event Saturday.

Earl Watson, now an NBA coach, holds the UCLA record for assists. Lonzo Ball broke the freshman record last night and it seems like he has a good chance to break Earl's record.
Earl Watson, now an NBA coach, holds the UCLA record for assists. Lonzo Ball broke the freshman record last night and it seems like he has a good chance to break Earl's record.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The 98-56 win over UCR last night was nice but really everyone is looking ahead to Saturday against Kentucky. As Steve Alford said about Saturday's 9:30 a.m. against Kentucky:

Two teams that are both playing well. Two teams that like to play fast. This has all the makings in a national tv game that is going to be quick and you may miss something if you leave your seat. It should be a very exciting game to watch and hopefully we play well. They run the floor as well as anybody. It is kind of our identity too. We are not going to change our identity because we are playing Kentucky and all the sudden go 1-3-1 zone and wall-up. It's just not our DNA. Our players like to get out in the open floor, they like to share the ball, they like to move the ball, and they like to create opportunities for each other and do that in an up tempo style. If it ends up not being enough, so be it. We are not going to change who we are. We are going to Lexington to play the way we play and hopefully we will play well.

That style was on display last night against an overmatched UCR. The Daily Bruin described it this way:

UCLA started the game on a 17-3 run, running the offense through junior center Thomas Welsh who scored eight of the Bruins' first 13 points.

After that, UCLA kept its foot on the gas. Senior guard Isaac Hamilton scored a game-high 27 points and shot 7-for-12 from behind the 3-point line. Two Bruins finished the night with double-doubles — freshman forward TJ Leaf chipped in 18 points and 10 rebounds while Welsh added 12 points and 12 rebounds.

And Lonzo did it in his style. While he only scored 5 points, he did set a freshman assist record. Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News wrote about Ball setting that record:

Freshman Lonzo Ball had five assists in the first seven minutes of play and set the single-game freshman record for assists with 13. The nation's leader in assists surpassed Pooh Richardson's mark from a double-overtime game against Washington State in 1986. Ball took only three shots Wednesday, finishing with five points, two rebounds and three steals. He finished three assists short of the school record held by Earl Watson of 16.

Ironically, Lonzo may not have had the best night of anyone in his family. His brother LiAngelo, a UCLA recruit for next year, scored 72 last night. Eric Sondheimer of the LA Times wrote about LiAngelo:

One night after scoring 56 points, the senior guard who signed with UCLA poured in 72 points on Wednesday night in Chino Hills' 128-108 win over Rancho Christian in the Corona Centennial tournament. He made 13 threes. Brother LaMelo, a sophomore who's also committed to UCLA, had 31 points.

A few other tidbits from

UCLA: The Bruins' ranking matches their best since Feb. 9, 2009....They are one of two undefeated Pac-12 teams....G Prince Ali, who had right knee surgery in July, could return by late December....F Alex Olesinski has missed eight games so far with a stress reaction in his left foot.

But, right now, it is all about Saturday. Thuc Nhi's article lays it out there.

UCLA's 98-56 dismantling of UC Riverside on Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion sets up an epic matchup of blue-blood unbeatens Saturday. The No. 11 Bruins (8-0) travel to No. 1 Kentucky (8-0) for their first trip to Rupp Arena looking for their second upset over the top-ranked Wildcats in as many years.

Go Bruins! Beat Kentucky.