UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball declares for National Basketball Association draft after tourney loss

Fox had 39 points to help Kentucky beat UCLA in the South Region semifinals and advance to Sunday afternoon's regional final against North Carolina for a berth in the Final Four.

Instead, as a clear sign of Kentucky's growth as a team late in the season, Fox wanted to talk about his coach's favorite subject. "If you switch our pick-and-roll, then you wind up with a "big" on Fox, and when that happens we all space the floor, and then Fox is just too quick to get to the rim. We attribute that to our defense today".

"It sucked", the freshman forward said after the Bruins were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by Kentucky on Friday.

It meant that UCLA scored 22 fewer points Friday night than it did in Lexington, and its total was the second-lowest of the season (75 in a win over Texas A&M). Then there's Fox who was 13 of 20 overall and hit 13 of 15 at the free throw line.

"We're going to play through De'Aaron Fox", he said. "The rest of you take a backseat, play off of him, but everything we're doing good is through him the whole half.' And they were ecstatic". "'Good. Let's do it'".

"I probably don't like to assume anything, but he's pretty good", Alford said. "There's a reason he is who he is and he has the hype around him". "He's very, very talented.It's tough to stop a guy who has as good of a mid-range game as he does. That's a lost art in college basketball, and it's very hard to stop", Alford said. "He was just phenomenal tonight".

Fox didn't credit his 39 points or freshman teammate Malik Monk's 21 for Kentucky's success.

Monk was hot to start the second half as he scored 10 straight points between the 17:58 mark and 15:54 mark in the half. Classmate Malik Monk rolled for 21, and in a combined 68 minutes they had two turnovers. Two drafts ago, they went for a point guard in D'Angelo Russell. But Malik Monk, who had 21 points for United Kingdom, said after the game that this was not a one-on-one battle for Fox.

Monk also started scoring.

Make Ball work on the other end and keep him out of the lane on your end.

Isaac Hamilton and T.J. Leaf each scored 17 points for the Bruins. "Every game we play is a war". Alford said one off-night shouldn't change the fact that he believes Ball will be the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats outplayed an offense ranked second in adjusted offensive efficiency entering the game (UCLA was shooting 52.1 percent from the field through two tourney games).

Not only did the No. 3 seed Bruins (31-6) fail to reach their goal of a national championship but by losing in the Sweet 16, they also missed out on three more opportunities to take the floor together. His penetration-midrange combo baffled UCLA all night.

Needless to say, Twitter enjoyed going in on him after his UCLA prediction did not come true. "My teammates just kept going for me. Everybody tells us to be confident, and when you get the ball, shoot it". You know we are playing through De'Arron Fox.

One of the key moments of the game on Friday was right outside of the under-8 media timeout and Kentucky up 60-56 in the second half.

6 - Turnovers by United Kingdom matched a season-low. "But why would you want to play an easy game in the Sweet 16". The game flow had the feel of a comfortable UCLA lead.

14-2 - The Cats' advantage in points off turnovers.

With Friday's action in the books, the 2017 Elite Eight is set.

In New York, Sindarius Thornwell scored 24 points and seventh-seeded SC cruised past third-seeded Baylor, the Bears' worst NCAA Tournament loss. In a spectacular freshman campaign, Ball transformed UCLA from an also-ran program into a legitimate contender for the last weekend - with much the same cast as UCLA had a year ago.

  • Larry Hoffman