Lonzo Ball’s hip is ‘fine’ after big crash

SACRAMENTO, CA – MARCH 17: Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins is helped up after falling to the court and sustaining an injury against the Kent State Golden Flashes during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 17, 2017 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

UCLA’s already short-handed roster got another scare Friday night when Lonzo Ball crashed to the Golden 1 Center court against Kent State.

The freshman played through a right hip bruise to set UCLA’s single-season assist record at 257, surpassing Larry Drew II‘s mark of 256 from the 2012-13 season, as the Bruins advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 97-80 win against Kent State. The Bruins (30-4) face Cincinnati on Sunday at 6:40 p.m. PT on TBS.

Ball played 17 minutes during the second half after suffering the minor injury and said afterward simply his hip is “fine.”

UCLA head coach Steve Alford said he doesn’t think it’s anything to worry about.

The greater concern is forward Ike Anigbogu, who missed Friday’s game with a sprained foot. He suffered the injury in practice Tuesday and was still in his protective boot while sitting on the bench Friday. According to a UCLA spokesperson, the freshman is still day-to-day. Alford said he’s hopeful that the 6-foot-10 forward will be back.

Against an undersized Kent State team, the Bruins didn’t miss Anigbogu much. They’ll surely need him against sixth-seeded Cincinnati.

The Bearcats (30-5) easily got past Kansas State 75-61 in the first round Friday. They scored 34 points in the paint and outrebounded the Wildcats 31-23. Kyle Washington, a 6-foot-9 forward, had 16 points and four rebounds while fellow forward Gary Clark had 15 points and seven rebounds. Guard Troy Caupain led the Bearcats with 23 points.

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Basketball game day links: Let’s dance

Freshman Lonzo Ball leads the nation with 7.7 assists per game as No. 3 UCLA takes on No. 14 Kent State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in Sacramento. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

In front of about one hundred fans at practice on Thursday in Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, the UCLA men’s basketball team threw down windmill dunks and drained mid-court heaves. Fans roared, the marching band played and cheerleaders danced. It’s March and it’s showtime.

The third-seeded Bruins start their NCAA Tournament run Friday at 6:57 p.m. PT in Sacramento against No. 14 seed Kent State.

During Pac-12 play as the regular season crown passed them by, the Bruins brushed off a chance at conference glory for the national spotlight. On Friday night, they will have the floor, and they hope to hit all the right steps.

“It’s been a fun year to date,” senior Bryce Alford said. “Hopefully we can finish it the way that we started.”

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