UCLA to start home-and-home series with Kentucky in 2015

UCLA will start a home-and-home series against Kentucky next season, it announced this morning, ensuring that the Bruins will face college basketball’s most dominant team at least three times by the end of 2016.

The No. 1 Wildcats are already slated to play against UCLA on Dec. 20 at the United Center, part of the inaugural CBS Sports Classic. Now, Kentucky will also visit Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 3, 2015, and host the Bruins at Rupp Arena on Dec. 3, 2016.

Under John Calipari, UK reeled in five straight top recruiting classes before settling for just the second-ranked class behind Duke earlier this year. The 55-year-old turned those hauls into an NCAA title in 2012, and a runner-up finish behind UConn in April.

UCLA head coach Steve Alford has pushed to schedule tougher nonconference opponents since arriving in Los Angeles — even if the Bruins (7-2) haven’t looked quite ready for that high bar yet this season. The team was blown out by then-No. 5 North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas last month, and will host No. 9 Gonzaga this Saturday. Continue reading

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UCLA wins 112th NCAA title thanks to men’s water polo

UCLA now has its 112th NCAA championship, thanks to the men’s water polo team.

The Bruins knocked off USC in a 9-8 decision on Sunday at UCSD, breaking the Trojans’ run of six straight titles in the sport. Junior Danny McClintick scored a game-high four goals, while sophomore Gordon Marshall scored the game-winner with 34 seconds left. Goalkeeper Garrett Danner made nine saves.

It marked the program’s ninth championship, and first since 2004.

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UCLA to finish season in Alamo Bowl against Kansas State

UCLA’s season will end in the Alamo Bowl against Kansas State.

This isn’t the finale that Bruins’ fans had hoped for even two weeks ago, but a trip to San Antonio is still arguably the program’s best bowl destination since its Rose Bowl berth following the 1998 season.

Since its last postseason appearance in Pasadena, UCLA has played in three Sun Bowls, three Vegas Bowls, three Bay Area bowls of various names, an EagleBank Bowl, and a Holiday Bowl.

A Jan. 2 matchup against No. 11 Kansas State is a much more high-profile event than any of those, with the No. 14 Bruins presumably back in the underdog position that they favor. Both teams are 9-3 and coming off losses, with the Wildcats falling 38-27 to No. 5 Baylor. UCLA’s 31-10 loss to Stanford on Nov. 28 allowed Arizona to win the Pac-12 South, and eventually earn a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Alamo Bowl will kick off at 3:45 p.m. PT at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

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UCLA ranked No. 14 in final playoff rankings, likely in Alamo Bowl

UCLA will likely finish its season on Jan. 2 in the Alamo Bowl.

The Bruins were ranked No. 14 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, but more crucial factor in their postseason destination was what happened to Arizona. The Wildcats were ranked No. 7 heading into the Pac-12 Championship, but took a 51-13 beating from Oregon that threatened to drop it out of the top 10.

However, UofA clung on to No. 10 in the final standings, and earned a spot in the Fiesta Bowl against No. 20 Boise State. The Alamo Bowl has the next pick out of the Pac-12, and is a good bet to pick UCLA — which has head-to-head victories over other potential candidates in Arizona State and USC.

Note: There’s some buzz among USC beat writers that the Trojans could end up in San Antonio. I still think the Alamo Bowl picks UCLA, but if it doesn’t, the Bruins should be a lock for the Holiday Bowl.

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UCLA’s potential bowl gifts include GoPro camera, Fossil watches

Every year, the Sports Business Journal does the tireless work of rounding up a complete list of college football bowl gifts — making it easier for the rest of us to either gawk or laugh. (Helen of Troy hair dryer, anyone? Or maybe a personalized Fathead?)

Here are the prizes for UCLA’s possible bowl destinations:

Alamo Bowl: GoPro Hero4 Silver camera and 32MB memory card; Fossil watch; Oakley Works backpack; Schutt mini helmet; panoramic photo

Holiday Bowl: $445 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip; Fossil watch; cap

Foster Farms Bowl: Gift suite*; Fossil watch

*Suites allow players to select from a list of gifts, up to a predetermined value, and can be one of most popular options.

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Tyler Foreman leaves UCLA, Zach Whitley still on roster

This post originally stated that UCLA had dismissed linebacker Zach Whitley due to a team issue.

Safety/linebacker Tyler Foreman has been granted his release from UCLA and will transfer out, as first reported by Bruin Report Online.

Foreman arrived at UCLA as a four-star safety prospect in 2013, and moved to linebacker after a redshirt year. He only played in two games, and had one tackle.

However, linebacker Zach Whitley is still on the roster, a UCLA spokesperson said Friday afternoon. Originally an Alabama commitment, Whitley lived up to his four-star billing immediately in spring camp, looking like a player who would earn a spot in the defensive two-deep. Although the staff unsuccessfully tried him at outside linebacker, Whitley showed natural instincts playing behind the ball.

However, that promise never translated during his debut season. After suffering a concussion and missing part of preseason training camp in San Bernardino, Whitley only played in nine games and recorded a single tackle.

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VIDEO: Steve Alford talks about UCLA’s win vs. Cal State Fullerton

Back at Pauley Pavilion after a bumpy trip to the Bahamas, UCLA bounced back with an easy 73-45 win over a vastly inferior Cal State Fullerton team. The Bruins held the Titans to 24.1 percent shooting, and only gave up eight offensive rebounds.

However, UCLA’s bench didn’t score until the final six minutes — although head coach Steve Alford said he isn’t overly concerned about point production from his reserves.

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Eric Kendricks named one of four Lott IMPACT Trophy finalists

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks celebrates an interception with his teammates during the Bruins' 38-20 win over USC on Nov. 22, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks celebrates an interception with his teammates during the Bruins’ 38-20 win over USC on Nov. 22, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks had to settle for All-Pac-12 second team last night, but today he became a finalist for a second major national award.

The Bruins’ all-time leading tackler is one of four candidates left for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, given each year to a top defensive player for both his on- and off-field contributions. He is joined by Washington linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, Duke linebacker David Helton and Alabama safety Landon Collins.

Former UCLA All-American linebacker Anthony Barr won the Lott IMPACT Trophy last season, which netted a $25,000 donation to the school’s general scholarship fund. Founded in 2004, the award has yet to be granted to multiple players from the same program.

Kendricks is also one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, given to college football’s best linebacker.

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