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30.05.2019 09:00
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UCLA has an opportunity to do something it hasnt done in more than 20 years when the second-ranked Bruins play host to Western Michigan on Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.If the Bruins (12-0) beat the Broncos (3-7), they will conclude nonconference play with a perfect record for the first time since the 1994-95 season. That team went 9-0 in nonconference competition and also fared pretty well in the postseason, winning six consecutive NCAA Tournament games to capture the programs 11th national championship.I know what I have, UCLA coach Steve Alford said. Ive got a really good group of guys to coach, (and) theyre a pretty good basketball team right now. Were trying to become a great basketball team, and thats a process. Thats a journey.That journey has already produced wins over Nebraska, Texas A&M, then-No. 1 Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio State. The Bruins are leading the nation in field-goal percentage (55.4), assists (285) and assists per game (23.8). They are second in the nation in scoring, averaging 96.9 points per contest.The Bruins might be at their best when theyre running and gunning, but theyve also survived tough tests against bigger, more physical opponents that tried to dictate a slower tempo. Ohio State had some success with that strategy early in Saturdays CBS Sports Classic, but the Bruins pulled away to win 86-73.Weve seen a lot of different styles and a lot of teams have done different things to us, Alford said. I dont know if its all of them, but I think weve gone against enough that, as weve got one more 40-minute task before we get into league play, I think were best prepared.T.J. Leaf is averaging 17.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for UCLA. Isaac Hamilton averages 17.3 points per contest. Four other players are also scoring in double figures for the Bruins, including Lonzo Ball, a freshman point guard who averages 14.3 points and 8.7 assists.The Broncos are also in the midst of a season they wont soon forget, but for all the wrong reasons. They lost six of their first eight games and then learned that one of their own had been implicated in a homicide investigation.On Dec. 9, Joeviair Kennedy was arrested on suspicion of murder in the death of Jacob Ryan Jones, a 19-year-old Western Michigan student who was shot to death Dec. 8. Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins called Jones death a devastating loss for our university and a devastating tragedy for everybody involved.Kennedy has been removed from the team, suspended from the university and scrubbed from the teams website. A day after Kennedy was taken into custody, the Broncos banded together to beat James Madison University 74-67.In any adversity, the basketball court for a competitor is therapeutic, Hawkins said. It really wasnt that hard for those guys once we were on the court. They handled it very well.Western Michigan is led by Thomas Wilder, who is averaging 16.1 points per game. Tucker Haymond averages 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists.Former UCLA standout Larry Farmer will return to Pauley Pavilion as an assistant coach with the Broncos. Farmer was a member of UCLAs national championship teams in 1971, 1972 and 1973. He had two stints as an assistant coach at UCLA before returning to serve as head coach from 1982-84. Custom Oakland Athletics Jerseys . Cuban testified Thursday that he was upset when the companys CEO told him news that would reduce the value of his shares, for which hed paid $7.5 million. But he said he did nothing improper when he sold those shares over the next two days. Custom Arizona Diamondbacks Jerseys . -- Aldon Smith believes he is on the path to being sober for good. . 10 Texas A&Ms offence dominated as usual against SMU. Custom Baltimore Orioles Jerseys . It was the second consecutive win for the Pacers (2-5), who lost their first five preseason games. Jeff Teague led the Hawks (1-5) with 17 points and eight assists and Al Horford had 12 points and seven rebounds. Mike Scott scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. Custom Minnesota Twins Jerseys . Both players have lower body injuries that will keep them out of the lineup until at least January 31, which is the first game they can be activated from IR. DETROIT -- Chris Tillman returns just in time to face a team he has dominated throughout his career.The Baltimore Orioles ace will be activated from the 15-day disabled list and start the finale of a three-game series on Sunday in Detroit. Hell be opposed by Tigers ace Justin Verlander in a powerhouse matchup.Tillman made a quick recovery from right shoulder bursitis after an uncharacteristic performance on Aug. 20 in which he allowed six runs in two innings to Houston. Tillman won 14 of his first 16 decisions but lost three of his last four before being sidelined.He has always found a way to neutralize the usually potent Detroit offense. In eight career starts, Tillman is 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA. He tossed seven shutout innings against the Tigers on May 13 while outdueling Verlander in a 1-0 Orioles triumph.Its a challenge to navigate your way through it as a starter, he said of Detroits lineup. Youve got to respect them, but youve got to go out and do the same thing every time. You want to give your team a chance to win, make good quality pitches and let your defense work.The Orioles have managed to stay in the American League East race, as well as the wild-card hunt, during Tillmans absence. They are two games behind division leader Baltimore and one game ahead of the Tigers for the final playoff spot after an 11-3 win over Detroit on Saturday.The guys have been throwing well. Its been fun to watch, especially the younger guys, Tillman said. Its always good to see everyone kind of come together as a group and do your job to the best of your ability. Its been a tough two weeks (for hhimself) but fun to watch.ddddddddddddVerlander has made 11 consecutive quality starts, the longest such streak of his career. During that stretch, hes 6-1 with a 2.09 ERA.Its good to have a pitcher like him because regardless of how the team is doing or how good the pitcher is that youre facing, you know youre going to have a chance to win when hes on the mound, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. That gives you a boost of confidence going into a game.Verlander, who leads the AL with a .209 opponents batting average, has a strong record against Baltimore. Hes 9-4 with a .370 ERA in 17 starts against the Orioles with 100 strikeouts.Thats still doesnt match Tillmans hex over the Tigers.Hes got a good hard cutter, its kind of like a hard slider, which is tough for a right-handed lineup, Ausmus said of Tillman. Hes a good pitcher, theres no secret there.What is a mystery is how Tillman will look after a three-week absence.I expect him to be a little rusty, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. Theres a lot of unknown there. More than anything, wed just like him to be healthy because even if he has a little rusty start, each one of them (afterward) will get better.The Orioles lead the season series 4-2. They are not scheduled to face each other again during the regular season, though a postseason matchup is certainly a possibility.This is critical because were coming down to the wire and teams are in similar situations from a standings perspective, Ausmus said. ' ' '

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