There was one big reason why UCLA won last night in double overtime over Stanford, it was an incredible individual effort by Kevon Looney (emphasis added).
Freshman forward Kevon Looney set career highs with 27 points and 19 rebounds, showing Pauley Pavilion why this will likely be his lone season in college. Second-year head coach Steve Alford earned the 500th win of his career. The Bruins avoided what would have been their worst losing streak in over a decade. . . .
But it was thanks to Looney that the Bruins even had a chance. The freshman forward dragged UCLA (9-7 1-2 Pac-12) back during regulation in arguably the best offensive performance of his career. After shooting 11 of 38 in his last four outings, the five-star prospect finished 7 of 12.
With the Bruins facing a double-digit deficit in the second half, Looney was responsible for 10 of his team's 12 points. There was a 3-pointer, followed by a three-point play. Two minutes later, he snagged a defensive board and took it coast to coast for a one-handed dunk. Fifty-four seconds after that, he made a pair of free throws, putting UCLA within two points.
"We couldn't lose," Looney said. "Nobody wanted to lose. I just picked up another gear and got going."
Looney's extra gear brought UCLA back in a game of two mirror opposite teams. Led by Looney with help from the second best player right now, Tony Parker, UCLA dominated inside. Stanford led by Anthony Brown and Pac 12 Player of the Year Candidate Chasson Randle dominated at the guard position:
With just under 10 minutes to go, Stanford appeared to be in shooting range of its first win at UCLA in a decade.
It had two hot marksmen, Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown, and a 14-point lead.
Instead, the Bruins rallied behind their powerful post duo of Kevon Looney and Tony Parker and outlasted the Cardinal in double overtime 86-81 at Pauley Pavilion.
For much of the game, the Cardinal (10-4, 2-1 Pac-12) showered the Bruins with threes, but probably from fatigue, they cooled off as the game dragged on.
The only way we can stop another teams guards is wear them out from so many open shots? In any case, Looney and Parker fouled out Stanford's starting center and Stanford lost their starting four before the game. Looney and Parker combined to shoot 15-25 (60%, the rest of the team shot 12-37). Looney and Parker had 31 rebounds. More on the numbers advantage on the inside.
UCLA held a 32-12 advantage in points in the paint, and owned a 24-14 scoring advantage from the free-throw line in the win. The Bruins also outrebounded the Cardinal, 51-42.
From the Cardinal perspective, they had one of their best games against our guards. (From the UCLA perspective how much of that was because of our guards "defense?") While Looney and Parker were great they also took advantage of injuries and fouls to Stanford.
The Stanford team made 15 three-pointers on the night, shooting around 48 percent from behind the arc. This ties the team high that has been met on two other occasions. Stanford was much more efficient from 3-point range than they were from inside the arc. The team only shot 11 of 40 from mid-range, which contributed greatly to Stanford's loss and wasted the aforementioned outside shooting.
Stanford was outrebounded on the night 69-58[sic, 51-42], which could be expected due to the absence of freshman Reid Travis, one of the Cardinal's best rebounders.
The Cardinal look to improve on the foul trouble they got themselves into tonight. UCLA shot 39 free throws with many fouls coming from Stanford's stars Randle, Brown and Nastic, who had 4, 4 and 5 fouls respectively.
One other player deserves a shout out and that is Norman Powell. Norman could not run at the end of the game, was playing with a bandaged thumb but still gave his all.
In the first overtime, Goloman was needed to replace Norman Powell, who had fallen hard twice on his hip. Steve Alford said Powell begged to be back in the game.
"I didn't want to do it," Alford said.
But he relented after Bryce Alford fouled out.
The guards almost cost UCLA the game through no fault of the hurting Norman. The Bigs saved UCLA's behind. As Bryce said:
"They did a good job playing and getting buckets, as well as being garbage men and cleaning up misses. We knew if we missed a shot they'd get the rebound. They did great job."
How about going to them first? The "garbage man" took advantage of a bad Stanford frontline. But Kevon Looney is more than a garbage man as these highlights show. Kevon Looney willed us to victory:
"It was must-win," Looney said.
And for the first time in 29 days, UCLA did.
If we don't keep going to Looney and to lesser extent Parker, it may be another 29 days.