No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 14 Kent State: A look at how the Bruins and Golden Flashes match up in the first round of the NCAA tournament’s South Regional.
FRIDAY AT GOLDEN 1 CENTER, SACRAMENTO
How they got here: UCLA has won 10 of its last 11 games but did not look sharp in the Pac-12 Conference tournament, squeaking past USC by two points before falling flat against Arizona. Kent State needed to win the Mid-American Conference tournament to qualify for its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2008, beating the teams seeded Nos. 3, 2 and 1 on the way to the championship.
Last 10 games: UCLA 9-1; Kent State 9-1. Record vs. NCAA tournament teams: UCLA 6-4; Kent State 0-0.
Best victories/worst losses: UCLA defeated Kentucky, 97-92, at Rupp Arena to end the Wildcats’ 42-game home winning streak. In conference play, the Bruins defeated Arizona, 77-72, in Tucson and rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat Oregon, 82-79, at Pauley Pavilion. UCLA’s closest thing to a bad loss was an 84-76 setback against USC at the Galen Center. Kent State defeated Texas, 63-58, in Austin and twice knocked off Akron, the eventual top-seeded team in the MAC tournament, including a 70-67 victory in the regular season and a 70-65 triumph in the tournament championship. The Golden Flashes also endured a four-game losing streak against Ohio, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Buffalo in January.
Common opponents: Oregon State: UCLA won, 76-63 and 78-60; Kent State lost, 69-50. Western Michigan: UCLA won, 82-68; Kent State lost, 92-88.
UCLA lineup: Starters — G Lonzo Ball (14.6 ppg, 7.7 apg), G Bryce Alford (15.8 ppg, 2.6 apg), G Isaac Hamilton (14.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg), F TJ Leaf (16.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg), C Thomas Welsh (10.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg). Top reserves — G Aaron Holiday (12.6 ppg, 4.2 apg), C Ike Anigbogu (4.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg), F Gyorgy Goloman (3.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg).
Kent State lineup: Starters — F Jimmy Hall (18.9 ppg, 10.5 rpg), G Jaylin Walker (15.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg), G Deon Edwin (13.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg), G Mitch Peterson (5.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg), G Jalen Avery (5.1 ppg, 2.2 apg). Top reserves — G Kevin Zabo (5.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg), G Desmond Ridenour (4.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg).
It’s a fact: UCLA has beaten the champions of the Southeastern (Kentucky), Big Ten (Michigan) and Pac-12 (Arizona) conferences, with the victories over Kentucky and Arizona having come on the road. The Bruins are also 5-1 in neutral-site games, having lost only to Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament. Kent State’s top three scorers — Hall, Walker and Edwin — combine to average 47.5 points per game, making up 62.3% of their team’s scoring. No one else on the Kent State roster averages more than Zabo’s 5.3 points per game.