Rakocevic - UCLA blog

Gligorije Rakocevic and Oregon State host No. 2 UCLA on Friday night at Gill Coliseum. 

Anibal Ortiz, Mid-Valley Media

Second-ranked UCLA (13-1, 0-1 Pac-12) is coming off its first loss of the season after Oregon's Dillon Brooks hit a last-second 3-pointer Wednesday to beat the Bruins, 89-87, at Matthew Knight Arena.

Bryce Alford, an 83-percent career foul shooter, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with UCLA up one, setting up Brooks' game-winner. 

The Bruins had an eight-point lead following Thomas Welsh's transition jumper with 3:32 left. After that, UCLA had five points, including 1-3 at the free-throw line, and two turnovers. Welsh, a junior center, had 20 points and  10 rebounds after missing the previous four games with a knee injury.

Freshman forward T.J. Leaf is the Bruins' leading scorer, averaging 17.7 points while shooting 65.4 percent from the floor, along with 8.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Bryce Alford, head coach Steve Alford's son, averages 16.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

The Bruins have six players in all who average in double figure scoring, including freshman guard Lonzo Ball (13.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 8.1 assists). Ball's assist average is second in the country.

UCLA leads the nation in field goal percentage (54.9) and assists (23.3), is second in points per game (95.1) and assist/turnover ratio (1.86) and third in 3-point percentage (42.9).

"We've got a good skill set offensively, so the ball moves," Steve Alford said Tuesday on a Pac-12 coaches teleconference. "They play very unselfishly. They make the extra pass. We pass up good shots to get great shots, and that's a good trait. I think those have been a lot of the key factors."

Added Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle: "They’re very dangerous. They’ve got a team full of pros. They’ve got a bunch of guys averaging double figures. They’re going to be hungry after a tough loss (Wednesday) night. So it’s going to be a heck of a challenge for our guys."

Steve Alford, a former standout with the Indiana Hoosiers, is in his fourth year as UCLA's head coach. He helped the Bruins reach the NCAA tournament in 2014 and 2015 and has a 78-41 record (.655) at UCLA. 

He's led nine times to the NCAA tournament. His two decades-plus of head coaching experience also include stints at Manchester, Missouri State, Iowa and New Mexico.


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