UCLA game day links: Must-win game?

Oregon running back Royce Freeman (left) will be the primary concern of UCLA’s Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (right) and the rest of the Bruin defense. (Photos by Steve Dykes/Getty Images and Keith Birmingham/SCNG)

Kenny Young won three Louisiana state titles in high school. He was never accustomed to the crushing feeling of a loss. It’s something he’s been forced to get acquainted with in the past two seasons in Westwood, but the senior linebacker is starting to grow tired of it.

“This losing stuff’s gotta go, man,” Young said last week after UCLA’s loss to Arizona. “It’s frustrating.”

If UCLA doesn’t kick the losing habit Saturday against Oregon, it could also lose its bowl hopes. With their season resting precariously at 3-3 overall, UCLA needs a win against the Ducks before back-to-back road games against Washington and Utah.

Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Pac-12 Networks with a radio broadcast on AM 1150 or AM 570.

All your pregame reading:

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Pregame graph: Midseason check point

Despite throwing for 392.3 yards per game in the the first half of the season, quarterback Josh Rosen has also thrown eight interceptions. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Halfway through the 2017 season, UCLA is sitting at the exact same place it was this time last year: 3-3 overall and 1-2 Pac-12 after a loss in the desert. This was when things fell apart for the Bruins last year as quarterback Josh Rosen suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the sixth game of the year.

With Rosen healthy, the Bruins are trying to keep things together in the second half this year. They need three wins out of their final six to secure bowl eligibility, but don’t have much margin for error with road games against Washington, Utah and USC waiting. UCLA’s best chance to make a bowl game would be run the table at home, starting with Saturday’s game against Oregon at 1 p.m.

The Rose Bowl has treated the Bruins well so far this year as they’re 3-0 at home. Here’s how UCLA has performed in each game during the first half of the year: Continue reading “Pregame graph: Midseason check point” »

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Thomas Welsh named to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list

UCLA center Thomas Welsh is the only returning starter for the Bruins this year. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Senior Thomas Welsh was named to the watch list for the Kareen Abdul-Jabbar Award, which honors the nation’s top center.

Welsh averaged 10.8 points and a team-high 8.7 rebounds last year while helping the Bruins to the Sweet 16. He has started 58 of UCLA’s 68 games in the past two seasons.

The 20-man preseason watch list announced Friday will be narrowed down to 10 in February and five finalists will be announced in March, with the winner named on April 6.

Here’s the full watch list:

2018 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Candidates

Dusan Ristic                       Arizona
Austin Wiley                       Auburn
Kingsley Okoroh                California
Tacko Fall                          Central Florida
Marques Bolden                Duke
John Egbunu                     Florida
Jessie Govan                    Georgetown
Ben Lammers                   Georgia Tech
Nick Richards                   Kentucky
Omer Yurtseven                N.C. State
Isaac Haas                        Purdue
Jock Landale                     Saint Mary’s
Angel Delgado                  Seton Hall
Michael Humphrey            Stanford
Vladimir Brodziansky        TCU
Mohamed Bamba             Texas
Tyler Davis                        Texas A&M
Thomas Welsh                  UCLA
Chimezie Metu                  USC
Ethan Happ                       Wisconsin

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Weekly Q&A: Oregon answers

via GIPHY

How would you assess the morale of the team? Kenny Young seemed to indicate at the Arizona postgame press conference that some of his teammates are not fully committed.

This is a critical week for the team. With a 3-3 record and two very hard road games coming up (at Washington then at Utah on a short week), this Oregon game could be a tipping point. If the Bruins win, it’ll keep them barely above water. If they lose, it could be the beginning of a three-game losing streak that will completely cap-size the season. Like the year’s hopes, I believe the team’s morale might be on unsteady ground.

I’m neither in meetings nor on the field for practice, but something that struck me this week was hearing Jim Mora say of his defense, “We have to move away from being fragile and move into being confident.” Perhaps the team follows that same mentality. I think the team goes into each game with confidence then once one bad thing happens, its morale is shattered. An example Mora referenced would be the 45-yard touchdown run by Khalil Tate on the fourth play of the game that erased two weeks of good practices. Developing that mental fortitude is a hard, but necessary task that the Bruins seem to be struggling with, especially on defense. Continue reading “Weekly Q&A: Oregon answers” »

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UCLA men’s basketball ranked 18th in preseason coaches poll

Head coach Steve Alford (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

The UCLA men’s basketball team checked in at No. 18 in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll released Thursday.

Arizona, the media’s preseason pick to win the Pac-12, led the three Pac-12 schools in the coaches poll by checking in at No. 5, followed by USC at No. 11. Oregon also received 12 votes.

After advancing to the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years, the Bruins lost four starters. Center Thomas Welsh is the lone returning starter while point guard Aaron Holiday returns as the team’s leading scorer. UCLA will lean on its highly touted freshman class that includes McDonald’s All-Americans Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands.

The Bruins open their season on Nov. 10 against Georgia Tech in Shanghai at 8:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.

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