Kentucky Basketball: 3 Things We Have Learned After The First Two Rounds Of The NCAA Tournament

A look at how the UCLA Bruins and Kentucky Wildcats match up for a South Regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament on Friday.

WHO: No. 3 UCLA (31-4) vs. No. 2 Kentucky (31-5).

WHAT: NCAA South Regional semifinal, Friday, 6:40 p.m. PDT.

WHERE: FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn. TV: Channel 2; Radio: 570.

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UPDATE: UCLA would prefer not to repeat one aspect of its 97-92 victory over Kentucky in December at Rupp Arena: turnovers. The Bruins coughed up the ball 18 times, something that has not been an issue in the NCAA tournament, when they’ve been responsible for just nine turnovers in two games. “That’s unheard of, playing as fast as we want to play,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said. Neither side appears to want to slow down the other in the fourth meeting between the teams in the last three seasons; the Bruins have won two of the first three. “Let’s go,” Kentucky Coach John Calipari said. “Let’s play to 120.”

>UCLA basketball team has navigated distractions en route to regional semifinal
>UCLA basketball team has navigated distractions en route to regional semifinal Ben Bolch

They have soared over every obstacle, defeating each team on their schedule while restoring sheen to a brand that had dulled considerably in the more than two decades since the UCLA Bruins last ruled college basketball.

Showtime, once the exclusive realm of the Lakers, has moved to Westwood, where...

They have soared over every obstacle, defeating each team on their schedule while restoring sheen to a brand that had dulled considerably in the more than two decades since the UCLA Bruins last ruled college basketball.

Showtime, once the exclusive realm of the Lakers, has moved to Westwood, where...

(Ben Bolch)

The Bruins might just get there if point guard Lonzo Ball continues his superlative play from the first two rounds, when he made 13 of 17 shots (76.5%) while averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and only 1.0 turnover per game. He has shed the white tape he wore around his sprained thumb last week, with Alford proclaiming him “as close to 100% as he’s been in a long, long time.” Alford said reserve big man Ike Anigbogu was also near full strength after playing only sparingly in the first two NCAA tournament games while recovering from a sprained foot. UCLA power forward TJ Leaf deserves bold print in the Kentucky game plan after going for 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the first meeting this season. “I just didn’t know all the things he could do,” Wildcats forward Derek Willis said. “He kind of surprised me in a sense.”

STARTERS

KENTUCKY; Ht; Wt; PPG; P; UCLA; Ht; Wt; PPG

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De’Aaron Fox; 6-3; 187; 16.1; G; Lonzo Ball; 6-6; 190; 14.7

Malik Monk; 6-3; 200; 20.0; G; Bryce Alford; 6-3; 185; 15.6

Isaiah Briscoe; 6-3; 210; 12.5; G; Isaac Hamilton; 6-5; 195; 14.0

Derek Willis; 6-9; 228; 7.0; F; TJ Leaf; 6-10; 225; 16.2

Edrice Adebayo; 6-10; 260; 13.3; F/C; Thomas Welsh; 7-0; 245; 10.8

RESERVES

Mychal Mulder; 6-4; 185; 5.0; G; Aaron Holiday; 6-1; 185; 12.5

Wenyen Gabriel; 6-9; 213; 4.8; F; Ike Anigbogu; 6-10; 250; 4.9

Dominique Hawkins; 6-0; 191; 4.4; G/F; Gyorgy Goloman; 6-11; 215; 3.7

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

Source : http://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/la-sp-ucla-kentucky-matchup-20170323-story.html

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