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Brilliant Ball leads No. 11 UCLA past Washington 107-66

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SEATTLE — Lonzo Ball’s demeanor stayed the same, even as the buzz built around his showdown with another standout freshman in Washington’s Markelle Fultz.

It became a one-sided matchup thanks to all the other options UCLA has along with its freshman star.

Ball had 22 points while dazzling in his matchup against Fultz, Bryce Alford added 21 points and No. 11 UCLA routed Washington 107-66 on Saturday night.

The expected faceoff between Ball and Fultz — two of the best freshmen in the country and expected to be among the top picks in the NBA draft — never materialized in the way the sellout crowd hoped. While each had flashes of brilliance, Ball clearly had the better performance.

Ball finished with six rebounds, five assists and hit 7 of 12 shots, an impressive outing with 21 NBA scouts in attendance. The difference for UCLA (21-3, 8-3 Pac-12) was the other pieces around Ball. T.J. Leaf and Aaron Holiday both finished with 20 points.

“It doesn’t matter what hype he has as far as matchups and this kind of stuff. If you were with us the last two days, it was the same Lonzo each and every day. Lonzo just does what Lonzo does,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said.

Fultz led Washington (9-14, 2-9) with 25 points but got little help. He was 9 for 19 from the field and committed five turnovers.

“I don’t feel that was our basketball team tonight. I didn’t recognize our team tonight,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.

The outcome was decided by UCLA’s dominant first half that led to a 52-34 advantage at the break and could have been even larger if not for a rash of sloppy turnovers.

Ball was good in those first 20 minutes. He was great for the opening moments of the second half. On three straight possessions, he knocked down 3-pointers each a few steps further behind the line than the previous. The last one came from about 25 feet and pushed UCLA’s lead to 69-43 with 16 minutes remaining.

Ball had 12 points in the first four minutes of the second half, and it was just the start of the rout. UCLA led by 44 in the closing minutes.

“We came in here focused and did what we were supposed to do,” Ball said.

While the second half became a blowout, it was UCLA’s first-half offense that exploited every deficiency for Washington at the defensive end. When the Huskies played zone, the Bruins exploited the middle and found open shots for Leaf. When the Huskies switched to man, Ball shook free off the dribble and found his teammates for easy baskets. Two of Ball’s three assists in the first half were slick lobs leading to dunks for Leaf and Ike Anigbogu.

Alford was most pleased with UCLA’s defense. The 66 points by Washington was the fewest allowed by the Bruins in the previous eight games.

“The big difference was our defense. It was by far our best. … I thought we were active, we got a lot of deflections and that led to open court play which our guy are really good in,” Alford said.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Look for UCLA to take advantage of the chaos in the rest of the AP Top 25, especially the top 10. The Bruins are likely to get a nice bump after sweeping the Washington schools on the road for the first time since 2004.

UGLY NUMBERS

It was the worst loss for Washington in Romar’s 15 seasons as the head coach. The previous worst was a pair of 32-point loses, one in Romar’s first season and one last year. It was the second time Washington allowed 100 points in a conference game under Romar. Arizona beat Washington 106-97 in January 2009.

BIG PICTURE

UCLA: The Bruins earned their 21st win earlier than any other time in school history. The previous earliest date came in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons when UCLA’s 21st win came on Feb. 7 both seasons.

Washington: While the result on the court was ugly, there was at least fan interest. Washington had its first sellout crowd since Feb. 18, 2012, vs. Arizona.

UP NEXT

UCLA: The Bruins return home to face Oregon on Thursday night.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Colorado on Thursday night.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.