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UCLA Basketball: Bruins Run to 113-78 Victory Over Montana St.

After a cold start and series of ticky-tack fouls, the Bruins break the game open mid-first half led by starting guard trio Powell, Alford and Hamilton and cruise to an easy win.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins came out of the gate determined to run but were cold. Norman Powell attacked coast-to-coast but couldn't finish, starting the game 0-6.  Montana State jump out to an 8-5 lead led by Marcus Colbert who went after Bryce Alford, scored 6 points, and sent Bryce out of the game with 2 fouls at the 17 minute mark. The PAC-12 refs were at their ticky-tack finest calling 7 fouls in 4 minutes, giving Bruin fans a vision of their worst nightmare -- losing a guard to foul trouble.

With Bryce on the bench, Isaac Hamilton shut down Colbert, and the Bruins took the lead for good at the 15:33 mark on 2 foul shots by Noah Allen on a nice break from Hamilton.

Seven minutes into the game, the nerves got under control, the refs loosened up, the Bruins went into a zone with Bryce back in the game and Montana State went cold.

Bryce lit it up from outside, and the game soon got out of control as Powell and Hamilton both got hot as well.  Powell finished the half with 14 points, Bryce Alford had 12 and Hamilton had 11. Although the bigs were fairly quiet in the half, Looney had 13 points and 6 rebounds after once again appearing to start the game with a case of bad nerves.  Parker had a couple of nice touches and added 6 rebounds.

Steve Alford gave Bail and Allen 12 and 14 first half minutes respectively but only 2 minutes to Welsh despite a good turn, and 4 minutes to Golomon who strangely played center in a lineup with Looney and Bail.

UCLA led at the half, 60-32 on 58% shooting, 50% from beyond the arc, but only 62% FT.  Looney was 8-14 from the line.

The second half was a glorified practice. With 5 minutes left, the Bruins were playing with one starter and led by 41.  As of this writing, Norman Powell led all scorers with 25 points, Kevon Looney had 20 points and 9 rebounds, Bryce Alford had 18 points and 12 assists and Isaac Hamilton had 15 points and 3 steals.

My quick takeaways (come back tomorrow morning for more in-depth analysis):

  • The guards broke the game open.
  • Looney quietly put up big numbers in workman-like fashion. He's going to have to get over the nerves quick, and (since he will go to the line a lot) hit free throws.
  • The bigs did a good job of covering up penetration allowed by the guards.
  • Bryce played under control until the last five minutes, and had a good scoring/assist game, but he's still a major defensive liability. Hamilton's D when Bryce went out with foul trouble started the turnaround.
  • The bench did well tonight, but Golomon may be dropping out of the rotation. Welsh had 14 points (mainly in garbage tie) in 13 minutes.