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Glass is Half Full After UCLA Basketball’s 81-71 Win Over UC Berkeley

A second half let down should not ruin perfect first half.

NCAA Basketball: California at UCLA
Alford wants Ball to be the leader.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Do you want to be a glass half-full or half-empty type? Last night’s 81-71 win over UC Berkeley divides people into two camps. The half full type will talk about the great first half. A first half that included a very good defensive effort. I agree with ArmyBruin75 who commented:

If we can D up for 40 minutes like we did for the first 20, it could be a championship team.

It was a tale of two halves:

After holding Cal to 30 percent shooting in the first half, UCLA gave up twice as many field goals to the Bears in the second.

In turn, the Bruins shot 35 percent in the second half, making just one 3-pointer and a single field goal over the game’s final 5:25 after shooting 52 percent in the first half.

Despite a visibly less aggressive approach, UCLA maintained a 20-point lead until there were six minutes left in the game. It was then that Cal’s Don Coleman, who averages 2.8 points, scored 11 of his 15 points to put a scare into a UCLA team that had already lost one of its two conference games.

UCLA’s undisputed leader, Lonzo Ball, put it best about the effort in the two halves.

It’s a learning point. We let our foot off the gas a little bit and they came back on get it a little too close. but we were able to pull it out. . . . We knew we weren’t guarding right. They really came back with a couple minutes left and we just didn’t guard. That’s the one thing we have to keep working on. We know our offense is going to be there and it did again tonight. It’s the defense they we need to keep working on.

Steve Alford confirmed what all Bruin fans know, this is Lonzo’s team and he is its leader.

The pace that had heavily favored UCLA in the first half slowed to a crawl midway through the second half as Cal commenced its run. Steve Alford said he wanted Ball to talk more on the court than he did before the final minutes, when the freshman guard said he pulled his teammates together and told them they needed to tighten their defense.

“I told ‘Zo, I said, ‘We’ve empowered you and you have got to get everybody in and chew them,’” Alford said. “It can’t just be me because my voice just becomes that same voice all the time.”

Ball isn’t the talkative type, but he has been trying to complement his deft passing skills with his voice.

“I think it’s been getting better every game,” said Ball, who finished with 14 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals to go with only two turnovers. “Tonight, I felt I should have talked a little bit earlier, but fortunately we pulled it out.”

Oh but we are forgetting the best part, that dunk by TJ Leaf in the first half:

That dunk was like Norman Powell’s a few years ago. I love the way it started. He broke the ankles of his man with a fake than drove and dunked over a big. It was not just an open breakaway dunk but it was a basketball move ending with a dunk. Great stuff.

For the record, I tend to agree with Steve Alford on the win on the half full side:

“Let’s not make too much of this,” Steve Alford said. “We’re 15-1 and our only loss is at Oregon, who was picked to win our league, a top-five team now that (Dillon) Brooks is back healthy. Would I have liked to play the perfect game and beat Cal by 30? Yeah that would have been perfect … We just beat them by double figures. I’m very pleased.”

Let’s make ArmyBruin right. Go Bruins!