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Miller: Tune into UCLA-Arizona for an early taste of March Madness

Time:2017-01-22 04:28Shoes websites Click:

Into Early Miller taste March

By JEFF MILLER / STAFF COLUMNIST

Published: Jan. 20, 2017 Updated: Jan. 21, 2017 10:11 a.m.

LOS ANGELES – One of his players tied the school’s single-game record for 3-pointers.

Another finished one rebound short of a double-double. A third had 13 points off the bench.

“I thought he was special tonight,” said UCLA coach Steve Alford, words surprising only in that Alford was talking about a fourth Bruin completely, one who took just a single shot in the first half and five total.

And Lonzo Ball reached that number Thursday only because three times in the game’s final nine minutes he was absolutely forced to shoot – two dunks and an uncontested layup.

Yet, he was the most spectacular, most entertaining among them, this freshman guard who barely tried to score on a night when the relentlessly captivating Bruins finished with 102 points.

Ball had 12 assists, 10 points and 7 rebounds in No. 3 UCLA’s 22-point pancaking of Arizona State, setting up the team’s latest opportunity to charm and mesmerize America.

The Bruins face No. 14 Arizona at 1 p.m. Saturday inside a raucous Pauley Pavilion, which promises to be turned practically inside out.

The game – matching teams that have combined to win 36 of 39 – will be telecast nationally by CBS.

And, if all this doesn’t feel March Madness enough already, the color analyst will be Bill Raftery, whose voice sounds more like the NCAA Tournament than squeaking sneakers do.

“It’s about taking care of home,” Alford explained. “We’re going to have a very exciting atmosphere.”

UCLA will be honoring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar before and during the game. There is the hope that Magic Johnson will attend.

And then there is the near 100 percent certainty that Ball and the HOV-lane-loving Bruins will put on a display that might not be “Showtime” exactly, but definitely will be “Go Time.”

UCLA is coming off a game in which it had 30 assists, the most for a Bruins team in more than two decades and a notable exception at a time when some teams can barely generate enough dimes to make change.

One of those assists came when Ball executed a one-handed Magic-like baseball pass – or maybe it was more Kershaw-like – that Isaac Hamilton converted into his ninth and final 3-pointer.

The fastball traveled close to 70 feet, settled butter-soft into Hamilton’s hands and was delivered with the sort of flair that decorates magazine covers.

“He finds people open and they don’t even look open to most players,” Alford said of Ball. “That’s a fun guy to play with.”

Fun? Just fun? Ball and the Bruins are double fun, plus some more. Frankly, if you don’t like watching this team, what you don’t like really is basketball.


  

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