UCLA links: Jedd Fisch takes the reins

Jedd Fisch (left) celebrates with Josh Rosen after beating Texas A&M on Sunday, Sept. 3. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

Jedd Fisch did not envision his first opportunity to be a head coach coming like this.

“We love Coach (Jim) Mora, my family loves Coach Mora, my daughters can’t get enough of him and it’s been a very sad 24 hours,” Fisch said Monday of how he and the team processed Mora’s firing on Sunday.

Fisch is UCLA’s interim head coach tasked with keeping the team together for one more chance at a bowl game. He plans to use Mora as motivation to do so.

“My mind is 100 percent on trying to trying to get our seniors to 6-0 (at home) and to leave Coach Mora’s legacy as one that he was able to get five out of his six teams to bowl games,” Fisch said.

More on Fisch, his new position and how the team took Sunday’s news.

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UCLA men’s basketball listless on defense in first loss of season

UCLA’s Thomas Welsh (40) attempts to block a shot by Creighton’s Davion Mintz (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Hall of Fame Classic, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Before this season, it had been 13 years since the UCLA men’s basketball team gave up 100 points in a game. The No. 23 Bruins have now done it twice in three games after losing to Creighton 100-89 on Monday in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.

UCLA (3-1) had career highs from Aaron Holiday (25 points) and Prince Ali (18 points), but allowed the Bluejays (4-0) to shoot 54.8 percent from the field in the second half.

“We just couldn’t get stops,” UCLA coach Steve Alford told reporters. “We just couldn’t get any stops that mattered. Offensively we did a lot of good things. We had the inside-out going like we wanted. We just couldn’t get the stops and I thought that was the key.”

The Bruins, who also gave up 101 points to Central Arkansas in overtime last Wednesday, play Wisconsin in the third-place game on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PT (live stream on Watch ESPN).

Creighton, which was coming off an upset over then-No. 20 Northwestern, was led by Marcus Foster and Mitch Ballock, who had 23 and 22 points, respectively.

The Bruins struggled with foul trouble all night, further emphasizing their short bench in the wake of the indefinite suspensions of freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

Thomas Welsh picked up three fouls in the first half and played 27 minutes. He still recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds with two blocks as UCLA’s other big men, G.G. Goloman and Alex Olesinski picked up four and three fouls, respectively, and combined for just six rebounds and four points.

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First look: UCLA vs. Cal

Justin Wilcox, shown speaking at Pac-12 Media Days in July 2017, has Cal challenging for a bowl game during his first season at the helm. (Photo by Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press)

UCLA (5-6, 3-5 Pac-12) vs. Cal (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12)
Friday, Nov. 24 |7:30 p.m. PT | Rose Bowl
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: AM 570

Scouting report

Cal was voted to finish last in the Pac-12 North, but the Golden Bears, in their first season under head coach Justin Wilcox, have exceeded many expectations by challenging for bowl eligibility. The winner of Friday’s game reaches the six-game threshold and earns itself a postseason opportunity.

Wilcox, a former defensive coordinator at Washington and USC, helped turn Cal’s defense around quickly this season. The Bears were the Pac-12’s worst scoring defense last season, allowing 42.6 points per game, but have jumped to seventh with 28.3 points per game allowed this year. They forced seven turnovers in their 37-3 upset over Washington State on Oct. 13.

The offense has been inconsistent with redshirt sophomore Ross Bowers at quarterback, but got a boost from running back Patrick Laird last week as he rushed for 153 yards and one touchdown against Stanford in Cal’s rivalry game.

Laird scored a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the third against the Cardinal that helped cut the deficit to three points, but both teams were held scoreless in the fourth and Stanford came away with its eighth straight win in the Big Game.

Cal is 11th in the Pac-12 in total offense with 377.8 yards per game. Continue reading “First look: UCLA vs. Cal” »

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