Aaron Holiday embraces pressures of leadership role

UCLA guard Aaron Holiday (3) catches his breath during a Michigan free throw in the final seconds of overtime of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. Michigan won 78-69 in overtime. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Aaron Holiday has to bear many burdens for UCLA. The junior guard has to be a scorer. He has to be a distributor. Most importantly, he has to be a leader for a young team struggling to translate its recent effort against top teams into results.

With 11 combined turnovers in the past two games, both losses, Holiday will be the first to say he’s fallen short of the standard set for him.

“I gotta play at my best for us to win,” he said Saturday after UCLA’s loss to Cincinnati. “And that’s what I’m going to do.”

The Bruins (7-3) will try to get back on the right track Tuesday against South Dakota at 6 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion. The Coyotes (11-3) are ranked 16 spots ahead of UCLA in the RPI rankings as of Monday. The game will be on Pac-12 Networks woth radio on AM 570.

More on Holiday and his role with the team

UCLA squanders double-digit lead, loses in overtime to Michigan

Michigan guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, left, defends UCLA guard Aaron Holiday (3) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Aaron Holiday had a career-high 27 points against Michigan but it was another career mark that made the biggest impact for UCLA.

Holiday committed seven turnovers, surpassing the career-high six he set in his first collegiate game, as the Bruins gave the ball away 20 times in a 78-69 overtime loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor.

UCLA (7-2) had a 15-point lead with 14:48 to go, seemingly on the cusp of its first victory over a team with a winning record. But the Wolverines (8-3) chipped away steadily, tying the game with a pair of free throws from Eli Brooks at the end of regulation. UCLA turned the ball over five times in the final 15 minutes of the second half after building the double-digit lead without one.

In overtime, UCLA scored four points, off a basket from Holiday and a dunk from G.G. Goloman, but turned it over three times. Michigan was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field during the extra period, including back-to-back 3-pointers to start overtime.

Thomas Welsh tied his career-high in scoring with 22 points while adding 10 rebounds. Holiday, who played every minute of the second half and overtime, also had seven assists. The two upperclassmen combined for 49 of UCLA’s points. The next highest-scoring UCLA player was Goloman with seven.

UCLA returns to Pauley Pavilion next to face No. 17 Cincinnati on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.