Friday, May 25

UCLA men’s basketball survives injury scare to take down ASU 87-75


Freshman forward T.J. Leaf finished his dominant showing in Tempe, Arizona, with nine points in the second half, for a total team-high 25. He also finished with nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double. (Mackenzie Possee/Assistant Photo editor)

Freshman forward T.J. Leaf finished his dominant showing in Tempe, Arizona, with nine points in the second half, for a total team-high 25. He also finished with nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double. (Mackenzie Possee/Assistant Photo editor)


UCLA didn’t get the same Lonzo Ball that’s been spearheading its offense.

Ball, who went to the locker room midway through the first half against ASU after tweaking his ankle, had just four points on 2-of-6 shooting.

The freshman point guard, who also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, returned but played limited minutes in the Bruins’ penultimate conference road game.

But against the Sun Devils (13-16, 6-10 Pac-12), the Bruins (25-3, 12-3) didn’t need their star point guard to be his usual dazzling self.

His teammates held down the fort in an 87-75 win over ASU, setting up another big game against No. 4 Arizona on Saturday night.

Freshman forward T.J. Leaf stepped up for the Bruins, finishing with a team-high 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting to go along with nine rebounds.

Three other players, including sixth-man Aaron Holiday, finished in double figures against the undermanned Sun Devils, who got zero points from their bench.

Holiday was 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and hit a 3 with 13 minutes left to push the lead to eight.

ASU stayed within striking distance thanks to its barrage of 3-pointers, making 14-of-34 from long range.

Senior guard Torian Graham had a game-high 28 points for the Sun Devils, who dropped their fourth straight game to the Bruins despite trailing by six points midway through the second half.

Five minutes later, UCLA had ran out to an 18 point lead with six different players chipping in points during that spurt.

Senior guard Bryce Alford shot just 3-of-10 from the field, but made all six of his free throws to finish with 15 points.

With a day off before a top-five showdown against the Wildcats, the Bruins will regroup and figure out where Ball and his tweaked ankle are.

But with or without Ball, UCLA has all the pieces there to step up for the star freshman.

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