Big Blue Links for Sunday:
UCLA shows Kentucky what great can really look like. My column from Saturday’s game says, “All the hype over Kentucky basketball’s blowout-filled start obscured one important point about the nation’s No. 1-ranked team. The Cats hadn’t really played anybody.”
UCLA savors its first visit and win at Rupp. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times writes, “Long after Rupp Arena had emptied, fans streaming through corridors in quiet resignation, Bryce Alford lingered in a corner of the 40-year-old building with his immediate and extended family. There were hugs, handshakes and smiles all around. Alford accepted congratulations from UCLA boosters and athletic department officials before posing for a photo with his father, Steve, and brother, Kory, everyone pulling in tight. Moments earlier, Bryce Alford had held his phone high above his head, snapping a picture of the scoreboard.”
Long after Rupp Arena had emptied, fans streaming through corridors in quiet resignation, Bryce Alford lingered in a corner of the 40-year-old building with his immediate and extended family. There were hugs, handshakes and smiles all around.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times
Kentucky abstains from excuses after loss. Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader reports, “Senior Derek Willis said that five or six UK players had not been feeling well since the team returned from the Bahamas. Among those players were Isaac Humphries, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Dominique Hawkins, he said.”
UCLA beat Kentucky at its own game. Mark Story of the Herald-Leader writes, “Lonzo Ball shook off a shaky first half to make, arguably, the three biggest baskets of the game. After missing his first four shots and producing first-half turnovers (five) at a pace that must have made Magee’s Bakery envious, Ball still had the moxie to stick a three-point jumper just four seconds before halftime. It put UCLA up 49-45, and gave momentum to the powder blue and gold.”
UCLA has the look of a national contender. Myron Medcalf of espn.com writes, “The Bruins can play with any team in America. They can win the Pac-12 -- and maybe more. They know that now. That’s the story: those quotes, those truths. The rest is worth paraphrasing and discussing in snippets. But focus on those definitive, landscape-shifting statements that foretell success for a West Coast program that played so poorly a year ago that disgusted fans flew “Fire Alford!” banners over campus and signed a petition to remove the coach.”
Kentucky’s defense a letdown in loss to UCLA. Fletcher Page of Courier-Journal reports on the fact that UCLA shot 53 percent in the victory, the highest percentage by a UK opponent since the 2014 NCAA Tournament. UCLA came into the game leading the nation in field goal percentage.
UCLA’s offense was dominant. Derek Terry of Cats Illustrated writes, “As a team, UCLA connected on 10 3-pointers and shot 43 percent from beyond the arc. Six players entered the game averaging double-figures in scoring, and six players walked out of Rupp Arena with double-digit points after the win. The Wildcats entered the game as one of the top defensive units in the country, but UCLA’s offense showed flaws in Kentucky’s defense.”
Freewheeling UCLA stuns Kentucky. Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports writes, “When UCLA took down top-ranked Kentucky at Pauley Pavilion last December, that win felt like a bit of a fluke. This year feels different. This year it feels like the Bruins are legitimately back among the nation’s elite.”
UCLA snaps UK’s 42-game home win streak. Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause reports, “The defeat snapped a 42-game win streak in Rupp Arena, the second longest in the nation and in the history of the venue, and was just the second ever nonconference loss in the building under John Calipari. It was also just the second time ever UK lost at home as the top-ranked team after entering the game 53-1 since 1976.”
Not many people saw this coming. Gary Parrish of CBS Sports writes, “Don't let Lonzo Ball's ordinary stats fool you Ball had three points, three assists, three rebounds and five turnovers in the first half. He finished with 14 points, seven assists, six rebounds and six turnovers while missing six of the eight 3-pointers he attempted. So, statistically speaking, this was the freshman point guard's worst game since enrolling at UCLA. But his fingerprints were still all over this victory.”
UCLA teaches Kentucky a lesson. Eric Crawford of WDRB writes, “But UCLA is good. UCLA was a top-five looking team on Saturday. UCLA looked better than I thought it was. And it’s fair to say, UCLA was better than UK thought it was. UCLA is the best shooting team in the nation. UCLA is one of a handful of teams in the nation that can probably match Kentucky playing at its preferred pace. It’s in the top five in the nation in offensive efficiency.”
Kentucky basketball 2016-17
Stephen F Austin