(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Fans during UCLA's NCAA Tournament-opening win over Kent State began calling Thomas Welsh "Robot."

A putdown? Nope. It was in reference to Welsh's precision game, particularly that mid-range jumper, and the junior center is just fine with it.

"I think I'm consistent with it, so I would like to call myself that if I could knock down shots the way I do," Welsh said. "But I guess it's pretty cool to have a nickname like that."

Welsh has adjusted his game as the Bruins have become more up-tempo with Lonzo Ball running the show this season. More of a half-court-type player early in his career, the 7-footer has had to force himself to run the floor more often to keep up.

He worked hard to get himself in shape during the offseason and has kept up -- for the most part.

"They like to push the ball and a lot of times it's hard for me to keep the pace with them up and down court," Welsh said. "But it's one of those things where being in good shape and being willing to push that extra mile to get up and down is a big thing for me and one I definitely try to focus on."
 
The pace has not been an issue for Welsh because his ability to knock down that mid-range jumper with robotic-like consistency, pass out of the post and take care of the ball. He averages 10.8 points and leads UCLA with 8.8 rebounds.
 
"He's an outstanding shooter," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "There aren't too many centers in the country if any that shoot the 15-17 foot shot any more consistently than he does. So his teammates find him and if you lose track of him defensively that's always a weapon that we have because he's very consistent."
 
Like a robot.