UCLA links: Kris Wilkes, UCLA freshmen continue to learn on the fly

Steve Alford talks to UCLA Bruins guard Kris Wilkes #13 in the second half. UCLA defeated Centeral Arkansas 106-101 in overtime at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood, CA 11/15/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Playing on the road at Michigan was UCLA’s toughest task. The Bruins faltered and now face an equally, or even more, difficult task Saturday in their first ranked opponent.

The Bruins host No. 25 Cincinnati on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion at 12:30 p.m. UCLA has yet to take down a team with a winning record and is ranked just 88th in RPI with three nonconference games left.

Veterans Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday carried the Bruins in Ann Arbor and now head coach Steve Alford wants his young players to take the next step.

Freshman guard Kris Wilkes is averaging just 8.8 points in the past five games after he was scoring at a 16.8-point clip to start the year.

“We’ve got to him going again,” Alford said. “I think always some of it’s the player, some of it is the newness of a team too of making sure he gets more touches and he’s getting involved.”

More on Wilkes and the rest of UCLA’s freshman class that’s looking to keep growing

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Steve Alford expects resolution to UCLA shoplifting investigation soon

UCLA coach Steve Alford shouts to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Cal State Bakersfield in Los Angeles Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. UCLA won 75-66. (Reed Saxon/AP)

UCLA is already free from the Ball Family drama and it will soon be able to move on from the international shoplifting scandal that struck five weeks ago.

Head coach Steve Alford said Thursday he expects a resolution to the student conduct investigation involving freshmen Jalen Hill and Cody Riley within one week and as early as the end of this week. When the final decision comes from UCLA’s Office of Student Conduct, Alford will be involved in any possible further discipline pertaining to the basketball team for the two freshmen who were arrested, along with LiAngelo Ball, for shoplifting in Hangzhou, China last month.

“It’s just one more of those distractions that we get behind us,” Alford said Thursday before the Bruins face No. 25 Cincinnati on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. “The guys in the locker room have had nothing to with any of it. So that’s why I’m very pleased with where we’re at. … This young team has had to deal with a lot, but we’re 7-2, playing well.” Continue reading “Steve Alford expects resolution to UCLA shoplifting investigation soon” »

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