By LARRY VAUGHT
UCLA coach Steve Alford had a quick answer today when asked in Memphis about how Kentucky freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox’s game had matured since the teams played in December when UCLA won 97-92 in Rupp Arena.
“Well, we thought he was awfully good when we were in Lexington in December, and I think he’s just continued to get better. He obviously is like a lot of freshmen, they look one way in December and by the time they get to March, it’s not just their skill set, but now you combine their skill set with some experience,” Alford said.
“And so now that’s what you’re doing. He’s got experience now. He knows what this is about now. He knows what road games are about. He knows what tournament play is about. But he’s just such an elite skill set as a ball handler, and his speed and quickness to get by people, you just don’t see very often. He’s like a lot of them that are elite like he is.
“As they get older, it seems like they just get better. He’s one of those guys that he looks a lot better now than what he did in December, and we had a awful lot of respect for him in December. He had a really good game against us in December.”
UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, the expected No. 1 pick in the June NBA draft, says the Bruins have picked up their defense since beating Kentucky.
“Our defense was way better than it was back then, and if we want to win, we can’t give up 92 (points),” Ball said. “De’Aaron is a great player, one of the best guards in the country hands down. It’s a tough match-up, got to come ready to play because I know he is.
“With Kentucky, they block shots with the best in the country. So it helps when you’ve got a 5 man and a 4 man that can stretch him out a little bit. Yeah, it helps my game tremendously, just they always spread out of the court. TJ can hit threes, Tom 17 foot. It helps a lot.”