UCLA’s victory at then-No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 3 was the Bruins’ signature win most of this season. The only one that may have surpassed it was a road win at Arizona nearly three months later.
Before Tuesday’s practice, Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf promptly dismissed its December triumph in Lexington, KY – at least as it pertained to Friday’s matchup with second-seeded Kentucky in the Sweet 16.
“We’re both different teams right now,” Leaf said. “And the stakes are a lot higher. So it’s going to be a completely different game than the first one.”
Thirty-five games into its season, UCLA is better than it was nine games in. Naturally, a Kentucky team even more freshman-driven than UCLA is also considerably better, according to Ball.
One thing Ball and Leaf agree will be the same is the fast pace. UCLA outran Kentucky in the 97-92 win that snapped the Wildcats’ 42-game home winning streak. The Bruins’ 90.2 points per game make them the highest scoring team in the country. Kentucky isn’t far behind in ninth with 85.2 points per game. It figures to be another track meet on Friday at FedExForum in Memphis.