UCLA had a nice win last night over Oregon with some pretty basketball on offense and spurts of good defense. This led the Orange County Register to declare "UCLA finally Pitches a Complete Game":
Their heart had been questioned. Their energy had been lacking.
For the UCLA Bruins, losers in three of their final five games of the regular season, the past two weeks gave the impression of a team running on fumes, certain it could coast its way into the Big Dance and slide right into rhythm. But with an embarrassing blowout loss in Pullman to arguably the Pac-12's worst team, the music filling their ears during a 23-8 regular season screeched to a halt.
First-year UCLA coach Steve Alford, fully aware of the sweet music his up-tempo offense could make when it was at its best, gave his players two days off to clear their heads.
What followed in a Pac-12 quarterfinal matchup with Oregon was a complete effort unlike No. 2 seed UCLA had given all season long, an 82-63 romp that silenced the seventh-seeded Ducks, the Pac-12's hottest team and winners of eight in a row.
The Bruins were loose Thursday night and it showed.
After the Bruins' dispiriting season-ending loss at Washington State on Saturday, Alford indeed gathered the Bruins together in their Pauley Pavilion locker room to show film, but it wasn't game film.
"I told them, every year you destroy one game film, and we are going to destroy the one from Washington State," he said. "Then I put in a film of all their fun times."
The players confirmed this, sounding amazed that they were playing for a coach who was actually using the eve of the most pressurized time of the season to remind them to dance.
"The films showed us dunking, having fun, getting our swag back," said Adams. "The coach told us we just had to have fun and see where that would take us.''
"We wanted to loosen things up, I wanted them to enjoy this journey," Alford said. "It's not worth it if you can't enjoy it."
However, I think this is a bit much. Yes it was nice the players had fun and that UCLA played so well on offense in the second half. Perspective is in order before we start talking title games with Arizona.
Oregon's eight in a row win streak featured 5 home games, one neutral site win over the #10 seed, road wins over Just SC and UCLA without Anderson and Adams. Speaking of Anderson and Adams they had pretty good games and it was Kyle who supplied the key spark. This is nothing new but the way he did it sure was.
The sophomore said before that point, he felt has if he "didn't have an effect on the game at all." The slam gave the Bruins a 37-35 lead going into halftime of the 82-63 win. UCLA then opened the second half with an 18-4 run.
Hardly known for his athleticism, the player known as "Slo Mo" was asked if he'd ever dunked like that in his life: "Nah, not like that. That was pretty nasty."
The dunk is here.
So here we are again. A great Thursday effort after our bad last road effort.
A week after shooting 33.3 percent in an ugly loss at Washington State to end the regular season, the Bruins couldn't miss in a 82-63 blowout of Oregon.
In what was arguably the most highly anticipated of the Pac-12 Tournament's second day, UCLA turned a quarterfinal matchup into its own personal billboard.
The Bruins shot 56.6 percent from the field, including an 8-of-16 showing from beyond the arc.
Anderson scored seven of UCLA's last nine points in the first half, giving the Bruins a 37-35 lead heading into the break.
The team then opened the second half on an 18-4 run, and cruised the rest of the way. Five Bruins finished in double figures, led by Adams' 15 points.
Reality is we have not seen a Kyle dunk like that before but we have seen the Bruins look good on Thursday. FWIW, I still think the game at UC Berkeley was the best of the year. And what happen after the game? UCLA lost the next time at Stanford. As Chris Foster writes:
Yet, the Bruins have stood on this precipice before this season. It's when the bad UCLA team surfaces, that rolling blunder review.
They have dropped the second game away from Los Angeles in four previous trips during Pac-12 play.
. . . "We get another chance to prove ourselves in the second game," Anderson said.
"We have to sustain the effort," he said.
Go Bruins tonight at 8:30 against Stanford.