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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Bruins Win on the Scoreboard Only

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This could be a very depressing basketball season and not because of the “Hangzhou Three”

NCAA Basketball: Central Arkansas at UCLA
Kris Wilkes was the best player last night and without him playing well, UCLA would have lost
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The news roundup is interesting because of the three different approaches the writers took. First, a bit of news that Ben Bolch of the LA Times wrote regarding the Hangzhou Three:

Alford said the suspended players would not travel with the team but could eventually resume participating in practices and other team activities.

I am going to let others deal with whether or not this should happen. From a basketball perspective, this is big. It is hard for players to get better if they are practicing against walk-ons. Really, Jalen Hill and LiAngelo Ball were not likely to play big roles this year and were going to be mostly practice players. Having them in practice would really help.

Ben doubles down on the Hangzhou Three’s effect of the team, citing fatigue, something, for the record, the players denied.

The signs of fatigue were everywhere. The Bruins missed their first six free throws in the second half and made only 20 of 32 for the game. Center Thomas Welsh uncharacteristically struggled with his touch, making only eight of 19 shots on the way to 16 points.

Thomas Welsh stated:

No, I felt good coming into the game. I missed some shots. It’s going to happen. Just keep shooting and I think I’m going to make more than I miss in the long run. Just stay confident and keep trying to do what I do.

Thuc Nhi Nguyen over at the Orange County Register focuses on the game and notes something that all who watched saw. She writes:

Aaron Holiday got the steal and looked for Kris Wilkes on the outlet pass. The freshman was driving to the basket, but couldn’t corral Holiday’s fastball. The loose ball trickled back to Prince Ali, who was trailing the play. He dribbled it off his foot.

A sloppy night made for a harder-than-necessary victory for No. 23 UCLA, as the travel-weary, short-handed Bruins needed overtime to overcome Central Arkansas 106-101 on Wednesday night at Pauley Pavilion.

As far as UCLA’s terrible defense goes, I still can’t believe we left a guy, who scored 35 and was on fire, wide open to make an almost game-winning three.

UCLA gave up the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds left in regulation after falling asleep on an inbounds pass. Guard Jordan Howard knocked down the wide-open corner attempt to give the Bears (1-2) a one-point lead.

As Alford quotes Holiday in the post-game comments:

I caught Aaron (Holiday) a couple times in the game like ‘How do you not know he’s a shooter yet?’ As a coach, we’re saying the same thing, but as a 17-18-year old who’s probably only in his second scouting report—it’s going to take some time—but when you start giving up a lot of baskets in Pauley, you’ll start concentrating a little bit more on scouting reports.

The UCLA website throws out some nice numbers such as six Bruins scoring in double digits, Aaron Holiday scoring a career high, etc. But the more interesting numbers are the Central Arkansas numbers:

Olesinski followed with two free throws to give UCLA a four-point lead (84-83), but Thatch Unruh hit a quick three-pointer with 21 seconds remaining to close to within one. Holiday made just one of two free throws, giving UCLA a two-point lead at 85-83. Howard's three-pointer made him the hero until Hands' free throw forced overtime.

The visiting Bears started the extra period with momentum after Howard hit a three-pointer while being fouled by Hands, and Central Arkansas quickly raced ahead by a 90-86 margin. The Bears' lead evaporated almost immediately after a Welsh jumper and a Wilkes layup and three-pointer.

Central Arkansas set or tied two Pauley Pavilion records – most three-point field goals made by a team (18) and most three-point field goal attempts (35). Howard tied a UCLA opponent record with eight three-point field goals made.

Of all the great teams that have played at Pauley, Central Arkansas is the one who set records. Not taking anything away from Central Arkansas, but that is a huge worry for UCLA.

The reality is this could be a long season for the beat writers and, more importantly, the Bruins.