GG Goloman hopes for strong finish to UCLA career

LOS ANGELES — GG Goloman wiggled three fingers in the air as he backpedaled down the court. The gesture, made after he knocked down a dagger 3-pointer with less than two minutes left against Arizona last Thursday at McKale Center, wasn’t a dig at the crowd that’s known as one of the rowdiest in the Pac-12, the forward stressed.

“It was just my hype,” Goloman said.

UCLA has waited a long time for Goloman to show his “hype.” It’s coming at the right time for the senior from Hungary, who will play his final games in Pauley Pavilion this weekend, and the Bruins, who are still fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth. UCLA takes on Oregon State on Thursday at 8 p.m.

“GG is playing as confident, he’s playing as strong (as ever),” Bruins head coach Steve Alford said. “He’s rebounding now in his area, which we’ve really been wanting him to do, and he’s shooting the basketball at a high level, so he’s starting to, I think, add to what we want to do.”

Goloman is coming off one of the best weekends of his career, as he scored a career-high 16 points against Arizona and tied a career high in rebounds with seven against Arizona State.

His three made 3-pointers on four attempts against Arizona were also a career high, and they all came in the second half to help clinch UCLA’s biggest conference win of the season. The senior is a career 36.1 percent 3-point shooter, but has made 58.8 percent of his shots from distance in conference play this year.

Watching the shots finally fall has helped boost Goloman’s confidence, he said, as he’s always thought he could be a good shooter. He’s also playing a career-high 23.7 minutes per game on a team lacking in frontcourt depth.

With Goloman’s emergence, the Bruins are starting to get legitimate production from a stretch four to space the floor, the way TJ Leaf played last year, Alford said. Leaf led UCLA in scoring last season with 16.3 points per game, adding 8.2 rebounds before getting drafted 18th overall by the Indiana Pacers last year.

Approaching the end of his UCLA career, Goloman would love to join his former teammates in the NBA if the opportunity presents itself, he said.

If he doesn’t catch on in the NBA, he’s hoping to sign a professional contract with a team in Europe. He’s been in the United States since his senior year of high school, when he went to the Sagemont School in Florida, and although he misses his friends and family and his favorite Hungarian specialty, goulash, Goloman said he’s not immediately looking to sign with the professional league in his home country.

For this weekend, he will settle for having his mother and younger sister at Pauley Pavilion watching the last home games of his UCLA career. His sister, Maria, has watched him play in person twice, but his mother hasn’t been to L.A. since his freshman year.

“It just all seems so quick,” Goloman said of his UCLA career. “It’s been four years already and it’s time to move on, but at the same time, you want to hold on to it. It’s just something that’s very special.”

The sweetest sendoff the Bruins could give to their seniors – Goloman, centers Thomas Welsh and Ikenna Okwarabizie and guard Alec Wulff – would be a pair of victories, especially after UCLA lost to Oregon State and Oregon on the road in January.

The Beavers (13-11 , 5-7 Pac-12) outrebounded the Bruins 45-37 in Corvallis, and finished the game on a 10-3 run to erase a one-point UCLA lead.

“It’s a toughness deal,” Goloman said of the rematch. “We’re going to play a lot tougher than we did in the first game. We’re going to have to fight for every loose ball and play like we want it more.”

 

UCLA vs. OREGON STATE

Records: UCLA (17-8, 8-5 Pac-12), Oregon State (13-11, 5-7 Pac-12)

Tip-off: Thursday, 8 p.m.

Venue: Pauley Pavlion

TV/Radio: FS1/AM 570

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