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Home Invasion — UCLA knocks off the #1 Wildcats IN Kentucky 97-92, breaking UK’s 42-game home winning streak, scoring the most points a Calipari Kentucky team has EVER given up, and going to 9-0 for the first time in a decade, behind T.J Leaf’s 17 Points, 13 Rebounds, 5 Assists, Block and Steal

The Bruins are back, and right now, they are the best team in the Country.  Kentucky hadn’t lost at home in almost THREE YEARS, until the Bruins came in today and knocked the #1 team in the Country off their Kentucky Bluegrass Thoroughbred High Horse.  UCLA started well, but then went on a tear of Turnovers, allowing Kentucky to take a 9-point lead.  But UCLA Freshman phenom Lonzo Ball settled down, and settled down his troops, bringing them right back into the game.  Aaron Holiday came off the bench and dominated the first half, scoring 13 and carrying the Bruins into the lead, and a Ball 3-pointer right before the break gave the Bruins a 4-point lead at Halftime, 49-45.

In the second half, Freshman big man T.J. Leaf continued his stellar play, outrebounding the Cats, and getting scores inside.  Leaf did it all, scoring 17, with 13 Caroms, 5 Assists, a Blocked Shot, and a Steal.  Lonzo was instrumental as well, with 14 Points, 7 Assists, 6 Boards, a Steal, and a Block.  Plus, he set up the Offense beautifully, and broke the soft full court pressure effortlessly.  The third Freshman, front court player Ike Anigbogu was also indispensable.  He had a put-back slam dunk that was Sportscenter Highlight material, plus he had 6 Rebounds and 2 Blocks to go with his 6 Points.  He also was a strong Defensive force in the key, keeping Kentucky from exploiting the paint, before he fouled out late in the game.

Isaac Hamilton led all scorers with 19, including 3 three’s, and Thomas Welsh added 14 Points and 8 Rebounds before he too fouled out late.  Bryce Alford did NOT have one of his better games, shooting only 4-for-10, committing 3 bad Turnovers to only 1 Assist, and missing two Free Throws in crunchtime, but he did score 14 Points, and he did hit the final 2 Free Throws that clinched the game.  The only player I didn’t mention yet was Gyorgy Goloman, who didn’t fill up the box score, but he DID contribute valuable minutes due to the foul trouble of the other big men.  The Bruins would have been in trouble without him.

So once again, it was a TEAM effort, by the #11 Bruins, who should skyrocket up the rankings after beating the #1 team on that team’s home court.  And the 5-point margin was not indicative of the disparity between these two teams ON THIS DAY.  The Bruins led by double-digits for most of the second half, and only a flurry of late Turnovers allowed the Wildcats to stay close.  The Bruins were up by 9 with under a minute to play.  Due to sloppiness, UK cut it to 3 with under 10 seconds left, but Alford’s Free Throws iced it.

The 97 points were the most ever allowed by a John Calipari-coached Kentucky team.  The Wildcats are known for their smothering defense, but this amazing UCLA Offense still hit 53% of their shots, because Ball’s unselfishness permeates the whole team, and almost all the players pass before taking a low-percentage shot while being tightly covered.

The sky’s the limit for this year’s Bruins.  Obviously, they can beat ANY team, ANYwhere.  Sure, last year’s team beat Kentucky (and Gonzaga), and then collapsed into mediocrity and obscurity, but last year, they got Kentucky in Pauley Pavilion, and the Wildcats were overly complacent, having DESTROYED the Bruins the previous year, inclusive of a 41-7 lead.  This year the Cats were hungry, looking for revenge and payback, so this UCLA victory is going to be MUCH MORE indicative of what this season has in store than last year’s did.


"IT TAKES A LEAF" was published on December 3rd, 2016 and is listed in Blue & Gold News.

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