The aforementioned Ball finished with 15 points, while fellow freshman TJ Leaf led all scorers with 23 points.
The team’s floor general, freshman Lonzo Ball, was hampered by a thumb injury during the tournament. USC and UC Davis played in their first NCAA Tournament proper games after wins in their play-in contests, while UCLA got it’s charge rolling with a first round match up against Kent State. That team was led by four seniors and had won five consecutive games, sweeping its way through the Big Ten Conference tournament on the way to a first-round matchup against Northwestern State.
Sagarin says UCLA has played the 74th-toughest schedule in the country this season, while Kent State’s slate rates No. 175. He surpasses former UCLA guard Larry Drew, who held the record at 256 assists for just three years before Ball came and helped bring the Bruins back to the forefront of college basketball.
On a day of upsets in the NCAA Tournament – namely over No. 6 seeds – Kent State was hoping to pull off the biggest one of the tournament. “It was a battle”.
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UCLA should use this game as a major confidence boost and a building block going forward in the tournament. Aaron Holiday streak for 15 and 11 assists off the bench. “I know what I’ve got in this team”.
“We were a little nervous early, anxious early, and they certainly made it very hard to score early on”, Kansas coach Bill Self said.
“He’s ready to orchestrate this team, and do the things he’s got to do to put his teammates in the right spot and make them look good”, Alford said.
At that point, Ball had already provided a glimpse of why he is expected to be a top-five National Basketball Association draft pick, finishing another alley-oop and a layup on which he cradled the ball in his right arm and flipped it into the basket while being fouled.
His 30-foot 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in an 82-79 win over OR on February 9 might be the single biggest shot of UCLA’s season.
Ball took the comments in stride and went about his business, just as he has with each of his father’s increasingly-audacious statements. “Can’t get the assists without them scoring”.
Chima Moneke scored 20 points to lead UC Davis, while Brynton Lemar added 17 and Siler Schneider 10 in the loss. It was extended to 16-2 as Kent was 1-for-11 shooting leading coach Rob Senderoff to call a timeout.