LOS ANGELES – UCLA (8-8, 2-2) faces its sixth nationally-ranked team of the season when it takes on No. 23 Arizona State (13-2, 2-1) at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday, Jan. 12. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks and is slated for a 12:02 p.m. PT/1:02 p.m. MT tip-off.
Venue: Wells Fargo Arena
Arena Capacity: 16,110
Date: Jan. 12, 2014
Times: 12:02 p.m. (PT)/1:02 p.m. (MT)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Krista Blunk (play-by-play), Tammy Blackburn (analyst)
Listen Online: www.uclabruins.com
Internet Audio: Dave Marcus (play-by-play)
UCLA VS. ARIZONA STATE
This is the 75th meeting between UCLA and Arizona State with the Bruins leading the series 49-25. The Bruins have won the last eight overall meetings, including the last four in Tempe, Ariz. Kari Korver scored a career-high 17 points - including all five of UCLA’s 3-pointers - and the 17th-ranked Bruins defeated Arizona State 58-50 in last year’s meeting in Wells Fargo Arena (Mar. 1, 2013). Alyssia Brewer had 12 points and nine rebounds and Markel Walker contributed nine points, six rebounds and nine assists for UCLA. Janae Fulcher led Arizona State with 11 points. Micaela Pickens and Haley Videckis scored 10 each. Thea Lemberger left the game midway through the first half and never returned, injuring her left elbow on a fall as an Arizona State player landed on top of her, trapping her arm.
There is a road winning streak on the line when the Bruins meet the Sun Devils at Arizona State. Dating back to last season, UCLA has won six straight Pac-12 road games.
With the Bruins’ 67-61 win at Arizona on Jan. 10, UCLA extended its winning streak against unranked opponents on the road to 12 games (descending chronological order): Arizona, Minnesota, San Diego State, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Pepperdine and St. John’s.
The Bruins have now lost three key players for the season as they will be without redshirt freshman Lauren Holiday (3.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) for the remainder of the year, as announced by Head Coach Cori Close this week. Holiday sustained a head injury at the end of the first half of the USC game (Dec. 30). She joins sophomore guard Kari Korver (4.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and junior forward Kacy Swain (3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg) as players lost for the year. Both of them suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) within a week of each other. Korver also had a tear in her lateral meniscus. Freshman forward Paulina Hersler has yet to play this season due to a knee injury she sustained in Sweden before arriving in the United States.
NYINGIFA CLIMBING THE CHARTS
UCLA sixth-year senior Atonye Nyingifa is currently tied for 9th on the Bruins’ career list for most games played with 123. That mark also ranks tied for fourth on the NCAA active career list. She is currently 16th on the Bruins’ career scoring list with 1,277 points (needs seven points for 15th), which ranks 72nd on the NCAA active career list. She is tied for 9th in career rebounds (794, Noelle Quinn, 2004-07) and needs five to pass Janae Hubbard (798, 1997-2000) for 8th. She is 10th in free throws made (308), which ranks 45th on the NCAA active career charts and 8th in free throws attempted (441), which ranks 44th on the NCAA active career chart.
ON THE TUBE
This year UCLA has the distinction of having the first televised conference game when they hosted USC (Dec. 30) and the last televised conference game on March 2, 2014 when they visit Utah (1:00 p.m.). The Bruins will be making a total of 18 television appearances, the most in school history, during the 2013-14 regular season.
UCLA was selected to finish fifth in both the Pac-12 conference’s preseason coaches and media polls. Stanford was picked to finish first, followed by California, Colorado and Washington. After the Bruins, USC was selected to finish sixth, followed by Utah and Oregon State.
The Bruins can boast of having one of the toughest schedules in the country as four of its nonconference games were against teams ranked in the top 12 (at #12/17 Nebraska, vs. #12/14 North Carolina, vs. #10/13 Oklahoma and at #4/5 Notre Dame). The Bruins’ nonconference strength of schedule ranked No. 3 in the country (tops in the Pac-12) and helped the Bruins to a No. 26 overall ranking in the RPI. Twelve of the Bruins’ first 15 opponents have a winning record and UCLA’s nonconference opponents are a combined 118-55 for a .682 winning percentage (Nebraska 12-3; Pepperdine 5-10; North Carolina 12-3; Oklahoma 10-5; James Madison 10-4; Grand Canyon 11-4; NC State 14-1; Notre Dame 13-0; San Diego State 3-9; Minnesota 11-5; Auburn 10-4 and Cal Poly 7-7).
UCLA forward Atonye Nyingifa (Torrance, Calif.) established or tied six career-highs in leading the Bruins to an 82-76 upset win over No. 10/13 Oklahoma at Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 24 and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week. Nyingifa tied her career-best with a game-high 28 points and career-bests in free throws made (12) and free throws attempted (15). She completed her second straight double-double against a ranked team with a career-high 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. The sixth-year senior also handed out a career-high six assists against the Sooners. The win over Oklahoma was UCLA’s 700th victory in program history.
In the Bruins’ 78-68 setback to No. 12 North Carolina, UCLA had three players record double-doubles (Atonye Nyingifa - 18 pts., 11 rebs.; Nirra Fields - 12 pts., 10 rebs.; Lauren Holiday - 10 pts., 11 rebs.). They became the first trio of Bruins to record a double-double in the same game in over 23 years. In a 79-65 home win over Oregon on Feb. 23, 1990, Sandra VanEmbricqs (22 pts., 14 rebs.), Michele Wooton (17 pts., 10 rebs.) and Rehema Stephens (12 pts., 10 rebs.) were the last to pull off that feat.
In UCLA’s 82-78 home win over Pepperdine (Nov. 11), the Bruins had three players score 20 or more points in the same game (Thea Lemberger 25 pts., Atonye Nyingifa 24 pts., Nirra Fields 20 pts.). It marked the first time since a 91-58 home win over Oregon State on Jan. 31, 2004 (Noelle Quinn 24 pts., Nikki Blue 23 pts., Lisa Willis 21 pts.) that that feat has been matched.
The Bruins duplicated that feat in the 96-89 win over Cal Poly (Dec. 28) when Nirra Fields (36 points), Thea Lemberger (23 points) and Atonye Nyingifa (23 points), combined to score 82 of UCLA’s 96 points.
In the win over Cal Poly, the Bruins had several great individual and team performances. The 96 points scored by UCLA in the win were the most in nearly four years or 125 games (defeated Oregon at home, 104-80, on Jan. 28, 2010). Senior forward Atonye Nyingifa was 11-for-18 from the free throw line. The 18 attempted free throws were a career-high and the second-most in school history (20, Necie Thompson, 2/18/83 vs. CS Fullerton, 11-for-20). Nirra Fields’ career-high of 36 points vs. the Mustangs were the most since Nikki Blue scored 36 against Arizona State on Mar. 5, 2005. The total is tied for the 11th-highest single game performance in UCLA history. Fields also made a career-high five three-pointers against Cal Poly.
In the 66-60 loss to Auburn (Dec. 21, 2013), the Bruins had two individual standout performances. Corinne Costa, who has the UCLA single-game record for blocks with seven, tied it for the third time against the Tigers. Nirra Fields also had a career-high eight steals, which was the most since Markel Walker had eight in a win over Hawai’i (Nov. 19, 2009).
BRUINS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
UCLA ranks in the Top 100 in the country (out of 343) as a team in three statistical categories, coming in at No. 34 in turnovers per game (13.7), No. 48 in turnover margin (3.47) and No. 90 in personal fouls per game (17.8). Two players rank in the Top 100 in the country as senior forward Atonye Nyingifa ranks No. 41 in double-doubles with seven on the year (ranks third in the Pac-12), No. 64 in total points (282) and No. 65 in steals per game (2.40 spg). Sophomore guard Nirra Fields ranks No. 61 in total points (278), No. 91 in steals per game (2.27 spg) and No. 94 in points per game (17.4 ppg).
Head Coach Cori Close enters her third year with the Bruins after guiding UCLA to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year and a Pac-12 Tournament runner-up finish. She sports an overall record of 48-32 (.600).