UCLA's 89-76 win over Santa Barbara featured some more good offense and about 8 minutes of defense.
UCLA began to create some separation by forcing turnovers and buckling down on defense, not giving UC Santa Barbara the same open 3-point looks it previously saw.
The Bruins and Gauchos were tied at 65 with more than eight minutes to go, but UCLA ended the night on a 24-11 run. Jordan Adams had 22 points. Kyle Anderson went for 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Zach LaVine added 15, whose first half shooting kept UCLA in the game.
Actually UCLA for the game was forcing turnovers but it was not covering shooters until late in the game. In part because initially UCLA was double and even triple teaming Alan Williams.
The final score isn't representative of how close Santa Barbara played UCLA. The Gauchos had the game tied at 65-65 with eight minutes left in the game thanks to hot shooting from the three-point line. UCLA would go on a 14-2 run to restore a bit of order in the world and avoid the upset.
The Bruins played a bizarre brand of defense, aggressively attacking the passing lanes and forcing 16 turnovers. But they also seemed stunned as Santa Barbara hit three-pointer after three-pointer to start the game. The Gauchos started the game hitting nine of their first 12 three-pointers. They would cool off, which helped UCLA take the lead as the Gauchos finished 13-for-26 beyond the arc.
As mentioned above Zach LaVine kept UCLA in the game in the first half with some spectacular shooting. Jack Wang writes about LaVine extensively here, following up on what I wrote about LaVine being a legitimate NBA prospect.
The numbers speak for themselves. He [LaVine] entered Tuesday's 89-76 victory over UC Santa Barbara second on the team with 14.3 points per game, and first with a 63.8 field-goal percentage. His 57.1 shooting percentage from 3-point range ranks second in the Pac-12.
He's even better judging by advanced metrics. According to kenpom.com, his true shooting percentage of 77.9 is fourth among all players nationally. It accounts for 3-pointers as well as free throws.
. . . ESPN's Chad Ford has LaVine as the No. 12 pro prospect in 2014, considered one of the best draft classes in years. Anderson, who last month dropped the school's first triple-double since 1995, is listed way down at No. 43.
Subbing less than five minutes into a tight first half against UC Santa Barbara (3-3), LaVine scored a team-high 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He hit three deep attempts from beyond the arc, as well as an off-balance jumper just inside the arc.
If LaVine was the star of the first half, then Tony Parker was of the second.
Alford said, "We wore them down a little bit," and he gave special praise to center Tony Parker who scored all eight of his points in the second half.
"Those were some of Tony's best minutes," Alford said.
It was nice that Parker stepped up as the other bigs (the Wears and Wannah Bail) had bad games. Kyle Anderson added.
"It's tough," Anderson said of Parker's early foul trouble. "Tony's a big body in there. ... We needed Tone. He did a much better job in the second half. Gave us great minutes."
Senior Travis Wear also had four fouls in 15 minutes off the bench, and still looks rusty after having an appendectomy in late October.
Steve Alford said of this UCLA team.
''We're driving the ball very hard, and think we're hard to guard in transition," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. ''We've got so many weapons. There are so many guys who can make shots. It's not just one guy getting to the line, or one guy making shots.''
You have to think UCLA will need more than 5-8 minutes of defense at Missouri or against Duke in its next games. Still it was a win against a decent team.
It wasn't until the final five minutes that UCLA seemed to get involved in this basketball game with UC Santa Barbara at Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday. . . .
UCLA (8-0) is off to its best start since 2006-07. New Bruins Coach Steve Alford led New Mexico to a 12-0 start last season.