UCLA lost four juniors on offense to the NFL draft, but its defense will remain mostly intact for a much-needed bounce-back season.
Junior Nate Meadors announced he will be returning next season on Monday, giving the Bruins three-fourths of their starting secondary back. UCLA won’t lose any defensive juniors to the draft, letting go of only four senior starters.
Senior Jordin Canada set the UCLA record for career assists while leading No. 14 UCLA to a 93-55 win over Colorado in Boulder on Sunday as the point guard tallied 10 points and 11 assists.
Her 700 assists surpassed former Bruin Erica Gomez‘s (corrected) record of 697, and Canada is the first player in Pac-12 women’s basketball history to record 1,800 career points and 700 assists.
The Bruins (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) jumped out to a 16-0 lead against the Buffaloes and never looked back as the lead ballooned to as many as 41. Japreece Dean had a career-high 21 points with five 3-pointers.
Canada had only one turnover with her double-double as UCLA had six double-digit scorers and 13 steals. The Bruins secured their first road sweep of the Pac-12 season with Friday’s 81-74 win over Utah.
“I think we’re starting to finally believe who we are and that’s defense,” Canada told the Pac-12 Networks after the game. “Our defensive intensity is huge and we showed that these past two games. I thought we were aggressive and I thought we attacked every opportunity that there was to get stops.”
Former UCLA linebackers Myles Jack and Anthony Barr each had interceptions in their respective teams’ divisional playoff victories on Sunday, helping the Jaguars and Vikings to the AFC and NFC championship games, respectively.
Barr had four tackles and one tackle for loss in Minnesota’s thrilling 29-24 win over the Saints while fellow former Bruin Eric Kendricks led the Vikings with 10 tackles.
Former UCLA kicker Kai Forbath made 3 of 4 field goals for the Vikings, including a 53-yarder that but Minnesota up by two with 1:29 to go. Drew Brees led the Saints on a field-goal drive to regain the lead, but Case Keenum‘s 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs as time expired pushed the Vikings into next Sunday’s NFC championship game at Philadelphia (3:40 p.m. PT).
Jack had six tackles in Jacksonville’s 45-42 win over Pittsburgh and picked off Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter after breaking up the pass and securing the catch while tapping his feet in bounds before falling out. The Jaguars face New England in the AFC championship on Jan. 21 at 12:05 p.m PT.
Pacific Palisades defensive lineman Baraka Beckett committed to UCLA on Sunday, pushing Chip Kelly’s 2018 recruiting class to 12 total prospects with three weeks left until National Signing Day.
Beckett is a lightly recruited defensive tackle who was previously committed to Hawaii. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound prospect is a two-star recruit, according to 247 Sports’ Composite Rankings, and had other offers from Army, Columbia, Cornell, Idaho, UC Davis and UNLV.
Although UCLA has only one defensive lineman in this recruiting class, Beckett told 247 Sports Kelly offered him as an offensive lineman, an even more urgent position of need for the Bruins who are losing three starters this season.
Etiwanda High offensive tackle Alec Anderson signed his National Letter of Intent during December’s early signing period and Mater Dei four-star offensive lineman Chris Murray is on board with a verbal commitment he announced during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this month.
UCLA guard Kris Wilkes, right, shoots as Colorado forward Lucas Siewert defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Los Angeles. Colorado won 68-59. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The hottest offense in the Pac-12 heaved long 3s the same way UCLA had done during its past two games to great success. On Saturday, it didn’t work.
After entering Saturday’s game against Colorado as the top scoring offense in Pac-12 play, the Bruins fell flat in a 68-59 loss that moved them out of first place in the conference standings.
UCLA (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) was just 5-for-25 from 3-point range while Colorado was 11-for-22.
Thomas Welsh, who had 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting and eight rebounds, gave the Bruins their only consistent offense to match Colorado’s George King (26 points, 10 rebounds). Aaron Holiday had 10 points, but turned the ball over six times.
“That was as poor as we’ve played all year,” head coach Steve Alford said. “Outside of Tom we just didn’t have much as far as good concentrated effort. Obviously, you’re not going to win at this level when you don’t have enough guys collectively to do that, but I take responsibility for that.”