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UCLA basketball vaults into top 25 after 4-0 start

UCLA basketball vaults into top 25 after 4-0 start
UCLA center Thomas Welsh gestures during a win over Nicholls State on Nov. 20. (Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

The UCLA men’s basketball team successfully navigated their first four games of the season, and on Monday, they were rewarded. When the national polls came out, UCLA moved into the rankings.

UCLA jumped to the No. 22 spot in this week's Associated Press top-25 poll. The USA Today Coaches Poll has the Bruins at No. 23.

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That makes UCLA the second-ranked Pac-12 team, behind Arizona — second in the AP poll, fourth in the Coaches Poll.

Through the first four games, UCLA is averaging more than 95 points per game and has won by an average margin of almost 24 points. They haven't played any ranked or power-conference teams, but Long Beach State is No. 33 in the early RPI, and Coastal Carolina is No. 78.

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Now comes the hard part. UCLA opens up its Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas with a game against Oklahoma. The Sooners dropped out of the AP poll after a loss to Creighton last week but remain ahead of UCLA in the Coaches Poll, at No. 21.

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Other teams in the tournament field include Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida.

UCLA guard Norman Powell also picked up an individual award on Monday. He was named the Pac-12 player of the week. He was 15 for 24 from the field in two games this week, including 7 of 10 from three-point range. It marks Powell's first time winning a weekly award.

Twitter: @zhelfand

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