The first half looked Lavinesque but the second half was good enough to start to beat a tired Long Beach State team 83-76.
Lavin was broadcasting the game and it was painful to listen to. It also looked like Lavin was coaching as UCLA let down after the Kentucky win. UCLA's offense was all too often just individual play. Fortunately for UCLA, Bryce Alford was hitting threes (13 points) and Isaac Hamilton's version of street ball (9 points)was working just enough for UCLA to be only down one at half. On the other side our perimeter defense remained awful as especially Nick Faust burned us outside.
A 23-7 surge to start the half as UCLA went inside out on offense and UCLA went up to stay for the game. UCLA also played some D on the perimeter. Bolden came in and things started to come apart. At one point Long Beach closed to down one 72-71. The starters came back and UCLA held on to win 83-76 in a game that UCLA did not trail late but Long Beach was frequently within one possession.
Some notes of interest.
Bryce had a season high and at times carried us in the first half. However, early Long Beach was regularly scoring over his man. UCLA needed him on offense but his D is still suspect.
Hamilton was playing street ball a lot in this one. But he did hit a number of floaters (including the one that iced the game on an "and one"). Along with Bryce he was the only way we were scoring in an ugly looking first half.
Tony Parker had a double double and at times looked dominant. When UCLA found him good things happen. The second half started out well in part because of the focus on getting Parker and Welsh the ball.
Thomas Welsh had a good but kind of strange game. He had a great game on the offensive board with 7 (has to be a career high) and also 15 points. Late in the game it was Welsh who answered when Long Beach State got close. However, he struggled at times on D when his man took it to him. Although it was only his third double-double of his career, he did not look as dominant on defense inside.
The freshman (and Bolden) looked like raw Freshman. Holiday, Ali, Bolden and Olesinski went 2-13 and looked bad at times. Bolden did hit a three and Holiday did have seven assists and a couple nice steals but really this was a bad game for them as a group.
So in the end, UCLA did not pull a Lavin. It won the game it was supposed to win with veteran leadership.
Gonzaga on the road next.