KEN­TUCKY

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

UCLA well be­low its av­er­age of 90.2 points a game and just a point off its sea­son low.

Maybe it was nerves or so many fresh­men, but Ken­tucky led 36-33 at half­time af­ter a first half that wasn’t close to the fast­paced pace ex­pected.

By the sec­ond half, the Wild­cats at least were run­ning up and down the court.

Monk also started scor­ing. The South­east­ern Con­fer­ence player of the year had only seven points in the first half. He hit four of his first five shots, in­clud­ing a pair of 3s, within the first five min­utes of the sec­ond. He scored off the fast break, and his sec­ond 3 with 15:52 left gave Ken­tucky a 50-44 lead.

Thomas Welsh hit a short jumper, then Bryce Al­ford hit a 3 to pull UCLA within 50-49. That was as close as the Bru­ins would get as Ken­tucky pushed its lead to 14 in the fi­nal cou­ple min­utes.

Six dif­fer­ent Bru­ins av­er­aged in dou­ble fig­ures dur­ing the sea­son, and four got there Fri­day. But Welsh fouled out with 5:58 left. The Bru­ins turned the ball over 13 times, and Ken­tucky outscored UCLA 14-2 off the mis­takes.

Ken­tucky won de­spite not get­ting much from an­other fresh­man, Bam Ade­bayo. The 6-foot10 for­ward had been av­er­ag­ing a dou­ble-dou­ble dur­ing Ken­tucky’s win­ning streak, but he fi­nally scored his lone bucket off a dunk with 3:17 left.

Af­ter the game, UCLA suf­fered an­other blow, al­though it wasn’t un­ex­pected.

Ball an­nounced that he had played his fi­nal game for the Bru­ins and would be en­ter­ing the NBA draft.

Ball was widely ex­pected to de­clare for the NBA draft af­ter this sea­son.

His fa­ther, LaVar Ball, has been es­pe­cially vo­cal, declar­ing that the el­dest of three hoops-play­ing broth­ers is bet­ter than NBA MVP Steph Curry.

Ball said he felt bad that he couldn’t carry his team’s se­niors to an­other win in the NCAA Tour­na­ment.

He said UCLA sim­ply lost to a good team.

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