I think too much can be made of a nice win over Pepperdine. People don't understand that they were a very good match up for us. As Pepperdine's coach said:
''Their size was a big difference that they took advantage of, especially at the beginning,'' said Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson.
UCLA jumped out to a 24-9 lead led by 8 points from Tony Parker and basically the game was over with the lead fluctuating between 10 and 20.
UCLA took control early, reeling off 11 unanswered points and hitting three consecutive 3s for a 22-7 lead on Parker's lay-in 6:08 into the contest.
The Bruins expanded their lead to 29-11 on two free throws by Prince Ali with 10:28 left in the first half, and stayed in control the rest of the way.
I really think the Orange County Register literally overstates things stating Four guards lead UCLA to easy victory over Pepperdine:
But the Bruins clicked out of the gate Thursday and led by double-digits for most of an 81-67 victory in their final game before opening the three-day Maui Invitational against UNLV on Monday.
"It was a pivotal game for us," UCLA coach Steve Alford said.
The Bruins (2-1) opened a 20-7 lead in the first five minutes, spurred on by four 3-pointers, including a pair by Aaron Holiday.
Alford led the Bruins with 19 points. Holiday added 16. The four-guard rotation of Alford, Holiday, Isaac Hamilton and Prince Ali combined for 57 points and 14 assists to five turnovers.
Uhm no actually UCLA got sloppy and ugly in the second half as the game went a bit AAU. UCLA guards finised with 9 turnovers not five and UCLA is now averaging 17 turnovers a game. As AP rightly pointed out:
BAD HANDS CONTINUE
UCLA committed a total of 34 turnovers in their first two games this season, including 23 in their season-opener against Monmouth. The Bruins' carelessness continued Thursday night, committing 17 against the Waves.
The Intern writes about the truly encouraging things:
In the first two games, the backcourt had been shredded defensively in transition and on the perimeter.
"Everybody in this room could've emailed me on what to work on in the last three days in practice," Steve Alford said.
On Thursday, UCLA smothered Pepperdine's guards. When the Waves probed the paint, they could not overcome UCLA's size. Tony Parker had his third double-double in as many games. He scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
Pepperdine was a team tailor made for UCLA. They like to work it inside and score there. UCLA stopped there inside game and Pepperdine could not score from outside. The defense on the perimeter was certainly better, especially early.
So it was a pleasant win, how much does it mean? We will see how many of the issues are fixed. As Bryce Alford said:
on the team's perimeter defense
"We've been working on it since the opener, working on transitional defense and working on drills where we were outnumbered on defense was the emphasis all week."
on the guard play
"Since the first game, we made adjustments. We're playing together now. That first game we played as individuals."
on UCLA's season-opening loss last Friday
"It definitely was a wake-up call for us. That score is still up in our locker room and is a reminder of how we felt. That score will stay up all season."
For now though UCLA has a better feeling going into Maui but that after that season opener. Let's see how we feel coming out of Maui.