Five-star center Moses Brown commits to UCLA

Five-star center Moses Brown announced his verbal commitment to UCLA on Monday, giving the Bruins one of the top prospects in the country for the 2018 recruiting class.

Brown, a 7-foot-1, 241-pound McDonald’s All-American from New York City, was also considering Florida State and Maryland. He is the 18th-best prospect in the country, according to ESPN’s 100 rankings.

“I decided to choose UCLA because of the rich basketball tradition,” Brown told Slam Magazine, “I could see myself developing and working on my game and being ready for the next level.”

He is UCLA’s first five-star recruit for this class, joining signees David Singleton, Jules Bernard and Kenneth Nwuba. Singleton and Bernard are both four-star Southern California natives while Nwuba is a three-star center who is finishing his final year of high school in West Virginia.

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UCLA loses third straight after comeback falls short

UCLA coach Steve Alford, right, watches from the bench as his team falls behind Oregon during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

Steve Alford covered his face with both hands. The sight of UCLA’s third loss was almost too much to bear before the head coach wiped both hands down to his sides in frustration.

Alford watched his UCLA team whittle an 18-point lead down to one three times in the final 69 seconds against Oregon on Saturday to only walk out of Matthew Knight Arena with a third straight loss as the Ducks survived at the free throw line to win 94-91.

Junior guard Aaron Holiday played only 10 minutes in the first half after he picked up three fouls, one which came after referees assessed double technicals to Holiday and Oregon’s Elijah Brown. Without their leader, the Bruins (13-7, 4-4 Pac-12) gave up 52 points in the first half, the most for a half allowed by UCLA this season.

UCLA had nine first-half turnovers, five from freshman Jaylen Hands, while Oregon (13-7, 3-4 Pac-12) had none.

Back-to-back Oregon 3-pointers pushed the lead to 18 with 15:29 to go, but the Bruins slowly chipped away. They made nine straight field goals. Holiday’s layup in traffic cut the deficit to one with 1:09 left.

The teams traded turns at the free-throw line, and while Oregon didn’t get a single field goal in the final 3:34, it scored its final eight points on free throws.

Holiday had 14 points, five assists and four turnovers in 30 minutes. Freshman guard Kris Wilkes led the Bruins with 21 points, 16 of which came in the second half and senior center Thomas Welsh had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

With its third consecutive loss, UCLA tumbled to fifth place in the Pac-12. The Bruins return to Pauley Pavilion searching for a streak-busting win against Cal on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

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UCLA game day links: Struggling Bruins need slump-busting win

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)

One off night turned into two and now UCLA is sliding down the Pac-12 standings.

After back-to-back losses to Colorado and Oregon State, the Bruins have fallen from first in the Pac-12 to fourth in less than a week. They face another struggling team Saturday as Oregon is also on a two-game losing streak heading into Saturday’s game at Matthew Knight Arena.

The game is scheduled for a 7:15 p.m. tip on ESPN with radio on AM 570.

Links to preview the game:

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Remembering the ‘Game of the Century’ on its 50th anniversary

FILE – In this Jan. 20, 1968 file photo, UCLA’s Lew Alcindor, right, grabs a rebound as University of Houston’s Elvin Hayes (44) makes a leaping attempt to snag the ball while UCLA’s Edgar Lacey looks on during an NCAA college basketball game at the Astrodome in Houston. Hayes led the second-ranked Cougars to a 71-69 upset over Alcindor and top-ranked UCLA in what was billed as the “Game of the Century.” (AP Photo/File)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t realize what impact that game 50 years ago was going to have on college basketball. All he wanted to do was play in it.

Then a junior known as Lew Alcindor, UCLA’s All-American center spent a week nursing a scratched cornea before his team’s marquee matchup against Houston in the Astrodome. It turned out to be one of his worst performances of his UCLA career in one of the most important games in college basketball history.

“When you’re like 19, 20 years old, you’re just thrilled to be involved in such an important game,” Abdul-Jabbar said this week. “You don’t really have an understanding the implications in terms of the impact of the entertainment industry, but that’s what it was.”

Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century,” UCLA’s game against Houston in the Astrodome on Jan. 20, 1968. It was the first nationally televised college basketball game in prime time and 50 years later, the impact of the game still resonates.

More on the game’s lasting impression half a century later

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UCLA flops against Oregon State, loses second straight

Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle (3) drives between UCLA’s Aaron Holiday (3) and Kris Wilkes (13) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Corvallis, Ore., Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Oregon State won 69-63. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)

In need of a bounce-back win, UCLA only fell deeper into its Pac-12 hole after a 69-63 loss to Oregon State in Gill Coliseum on Thursday. The Bruins now have more losses than they did all of last season and have lost back-to-back games to tumble out of first place in the conference.

Aaron Holiday led the Bruins (13-6, 4-3 Pac-12) with 22 points, 18 of which came in the second half, but had four turnovers to just three assists.

Holiday gave the Bruins a one-point lead with 3:24 to go after he hit two free throws, but the Beavers came back with back-to-back 3-pointers to spur a 10-3 run to end the game. UCLA’s only points during that stretch came on a 3-pointer from Kris Wilkes.

Oregon State (11-7, 3-3 Pac-12) outrebounded the Bruins 45-37, collecting 18 offensive rebounds and outscoring UCLA by 11 points in the paint.

The Beavers had five double-digit scorers, led by forward Tres Tinkle‘s 16 points with nine rebounds and three assists.

UCLA will try to avoid the road sweep on Saturday at Oregon at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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