UCLA knocks off No. 7 Kentucky

The answers to Kris Wilkes‘ recent struggles would be in the film, head coach Steve Alford preached. So the coach and the freshman huddled together aboard an airplane bound for New Orleans searching for ways to shake Wilkes from his funk.

Somewhere, flying 30,000 feet above the United States, they found it.

After scoring in single-digits for three of the past four games, Wilkes tied a career-high with 20 points to help UCLA upset No. 7 Kentucky 83-75 on Saturday.

The victory gave the Bruins (9-3) a much-needed marquee win in their nonconference finale and third win in as many years against the Wildcats.

While Wilkes paced the Bruins in the first half with 13 points, it was senior Aaron Holiday who sealed the victory. With the Bruins clinging to a four-point lead with 33 seconds left, Holiday crossed Kentucky’s Wenyen Gabriel over twice, drove to the basket and laid a left-handed scoop high off the backboard.

Holiday finished with 20 points, three rebounds and eight assists to seven turnovers.

The traditional basketball powerhouses traded long runs: 13 unanswered by Kentucky, a 21-2 surge from the Bruins, then the 13-2 game-tying response from the Wildcats.

Holiday capped a streak of 10 unanswered UCLA points with a pair of free throws that gave the Bruins a 12-point lead with 7:33 to go.

Less than a week after almost giving up a 24-point lead to South Dakota at home, the Bruins threatened to relinquish another double-digit lead in the second half. They committed three straight turnovers. Kentucky scored seven quick points.

But UCLA’s balanced scoring attack that had five double-digit scorers emerged right in time to stave off the comeback. Prince Ali tipped in a basket when the Wildcats cut the deficit to five. Holiday drained a shot when Kentucky got within four. Wilkes knocked down two free throws. Jaylen Hands iced the game with two more shots from the stripe.

Hands had 14 points while Ali added 12. Center Thomas Welsh had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bruins can now start Pac-12 play with a key NCAA Tournament resume-boosting win in hand. They next host Washington State on Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. PT.

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  • JustOwns

    Outstanding win; they didn’t fold under late Kentucky pressure. UCLA may not win the NCAA NC, but we deserve to be respected and ranked.

    Next goal, finish near the top in Pac-12 conf. competition

    • 88 Straight

      Bruins still have a long way to go. We need to keep growing and becoming more consistent.

      • Richard

        Did u hear, superstar dual threat Alabama QB Tua .. long Samoan last name .. want’s to transfer to UCLA.
        Reports outta Alabama during the year = he’s the best QB they’ve had since Broadway Joe

        • 88 Straight

          Tagovailoa I think. That would get interesting with DTR also at UCLA.

  • Ed Garrett

    i geuss u cuold say ucla stole the win from kantcuky,

    • Richard

      No, we bought the win. U know, the only way sc BB can “compete”.
      We had 2 of our Head Coaches purchase players and $ launder.

      # SC BB should get the Death Penalty … and
      Bland should occupy the Marinovich /OJ suite in the State Penn.

      • Ed Garrett

        this why every one hate u and want u banned dickard! u a drumpfster and u r evil!!! smdh!

      • 88 Straight

        Ed is bilingual. He speaks both gibberish and nonsense fluently.

        • Richard

          Laker Rod had more game than these hosers.
          At least he sometimes went thru a long winded semi-factual historical recitation.
          # Trolls r really not people.

          • 88 Straight

            Rodney has been banned. He must not know what to do with himself.

  • Paul

    Talent transcended coaching inadequacy