The Bruins traveled to New York to take on the Duke Blue Devils in Madison Square Garden. This marked the toughest challenge of the season by far for the Bruins, who had fattened up on cupcakes scheduled by Dan Guerrero and Ben Howland and lost to the only challenging opponent in Missouri. And, just like they did against Missouri, Steve Alford's Bruins failed miserably when confronted with a real test. Bruins get outcoached and outhustled in the second half, losing by a score of 63-80.
The first half was really entertaining basketball for the most part. UCLA switched to zone defense down 15-8 to prevent the Blue Devils from manhandling their matchups on defense and had a lot of success slowing down the Blue Devils, outscoring Duke 29-22 the rest of the way in the first. Duke only took 1 foul shot in the first as the Bruins and Blue Devils were knotted up a 37-37 after the first 20 minutes.
Kyle Anderson was marvelous in the first outside of a couple of turnovers, putting up 7 points (3-5, 1-2 from 3), 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Bryce Alfordand Zach Lavine also had solid first halves, Lavine with 5 points on a 3 (or a "trifecta" if you're Dick Vitale) and a fast break dunk on an assist from Bryce. Alford put up 6 points on a pair of three-point shots and moved the offense well against the best team that UCLA's played so far.
Jabari Parker for Duke should not be playing college basketball. I'm a huge hater of the "one and done" rule because it's unfair to everyone involved except for the NCAA (shocker) who makes money pretending these kids are students for 6 months. Regardless, dude is a hell of a basketball player. Led all scorers in the first with 11 points on 4-7 shooting (2-4 from 3).
The second half started with a hot start by David Wear, who scored the Bruins first 8 points with 2 three pointers in the first couple minutes. The teams were knotted at 45 until a rush of fouls and turnovers by UCLA gave Duke some room. A 10-2 run by Duke pushed the score to 55-47 with the only Bruin score being a jumper by Jordan Adams.
After a timeout, Alford got stripped and Duke pushed the lead to 10. Adams answered back but Duke hit a 3 and made it 61-49 before another timeout with a little under 11 minutes to go. After that break, a disjointed couple of minutes by both teams got the score to 63-51 with just under 8 minutes left before another TV timeout.
A layup and a jumper by Anderson got the Bruins within 8 at 65-55 before a Rodney Hood drive got it back to 10-point edge for the Blue Devils. Alford drew fouls on back to back possessions and sunk both foul shots on the first but bricked the front end of the one-and-one on the second. He got a steal on the next trip down but the Bruins couldn't convert on a missed three by Lavine and a missed jumper by Anderson. Adams fouled Jabari Parker while fighting for an offensive rebound and Parker drained both shots to give Duke a 67-57 lead with 4:35 to go.
The Bruins traded baskets with Duke most of the rest of the way, as the score worked it's way to 74-63 with 2 minutes to go. UCLA pressed after that, with long 3 point attempts to try and narrow the score and the game ended up with a final score of 80-63 for Duke.
Kyle Anderson ended up with 15-10-7 and 4 steals, but turned it over 6 times. David Wear had 16 points and Alford had a nice performance, scoring 8 points. Tony Parker, Jordon Adams and Zach Lavine (in the second half) struggled, combining for just 19 points on 7-24 shooting (1-9 on threes for Lavine and Adams). Jabari Parker scored 23 for the Blue Devils with 10 boards and 5 assists.
Even renowned Duke shill Dick Vitale was quick to point out the small contingent of UCLA fans who showed up to watch the Bruins play, was embarrassing. This is a direct indictment of a basketball program in the hands of a clueless bureaucrat and a rape apologist. Apparently having a shady (alleged) rape apologist as a head coach leads to diminished travel crowds and being called out on national television.
The Bruins will play Weber State at home on Sunday. Feel free to share your thoughts.