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UCLA Basketball News Roundup of An Easy Win Over UC Irvine

Chip Kelly got the loudest cheers while Prince Ali had the best game.

NCAA Basketball: UC Irvine at UCLA
Prince Ali was the star on offense last night
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA basketball news wrap up features three different approaches between the AP, the LA Times and the OC Register. As it seems it always does,the LA Times focused on events off the court. This time the hiring of Chip Kelly by the football team:

Some of the loudest cheers inside Pauley Pavilion on Sunday went up midway through the first half. The public-address announcer asked fans to welcome Chip Kelly, UCLA’s new football coach, as a colorful graphic showing his likeness was posted on the scoreboard.

. . .

Given the football-infused pandemonium of recent days, it has been easy to forget that UCLA has always been considered a basketball school.

And what it may mean for Steve Alford:

The hiring of Kelly was widely viewed as a we-will-win-now-and-we-will-win-big declaration by UCLA’s athletic department. Alford said the high-profile move did not make him feel any additional strain concerning his job.

“The pressure at UCLA has been there since 1976 and coach [John] Wooden raised the bar,” Alford said Sunday. “A football hire does not raise the bar in basketball at UCLA; coach Wooden put that bar at a very high level and you know that when you take the job here.”

The AP story focused on the offensive player of the game, Prince Ali starting for the injured Jaylen Hands.

It was clear Ali took much pride in the starting nod. He scored 16 of his career-high 21 points in the first half and No. 23 UCLA beat UC Irvine 87-63 on Sunday. . . .

Ali earned the start in place of the injured guard Jaylen Hands, who sprained his left foot sprain in UCLA’s victory over Wisconsin. Ali helped the Bruins (5-1) improve to 3-0 at Pauley Pavilion.

Alford had an interesting comment after the game on Ali:

I don’t put a lot of merit on starting but he took advantage of it. I thought he was aggressive and he has to be a scorer for us and he did that in Kansas City. His minutes are up and I think he’s showed some strides defensively because he should be a really good defender on the ball. Very proud of Prince. He took advantage of his starting role definitely and really got us going in the first half.

I am probably going to parse this statement too much but here goes. Ali can score and may not start when Jaylen Hands comes back but may be in at the end of games. He is, at worst, our sixth man but, in reality, may be our fourth best player.

Then, there’s the more interesting comment; “I think he’s showed some strides defensively because he should be a really good defender on the ball.” Ali has what it takes on offense but needs to be a better defender? Ali was clearly burned by Max Hazzard of UCI during the game for 5 three-pointers:

Hazzard is the grandson of the late Walt Hazzard, the former UCLA player who played on John Wooden’s first national championship team in 1964. He also coached UCLA from 1984-88. Playing at Pauley Pavilion meant a lot to Max Hazzard.

“I was very excited,” Hazzard said. “My grandfather laid the path here at Pauley, so I was very excited to play in front of my family and friends. I really loved the atmosphere here.”

Lastly, Inside SoCal’s Thuc Nguyen focused on the short bench in her article for the Orange County Register:

Steve Alford touted his team’s depth at the beginning of the year and the UCLA head coach dug deep into his roster Sunday, just not in the way he was likely expecting.

UCLA emptied its entire bench Sunday in a blowout 87-63 win over UC Irvine at Pauley Pavilion....

The Bruins kept the Anteaters (4-4) scoreless for 5:01 in the first half and built up a 13-point lead. Nursing their short bench, the Bruins used the double-digit cushion to play reserves Alec Wulff and Ikenna Owarabizie and spell starters Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday. Neither Wulff nor Owarabizie had played more than six minutes in any game during their [careers].

It always interesting to hear the other coach’s take. UCI’s Coach Russell Turner blamed himself:

I felt like the technical foul changed the game. I’m very disappointed about that, so I’m kind of at an emotional state in terms of evaluating this game. I’m not sure why I got that “T” because I was never warned. It was appropriate, but not necessary.

As Nguyen points out after the T:

A 3-pointer from the Loyola grad pulled the Anteaters to within two points with 16:21 left, but the Bruins scored six unanswered points on free throws to spur a 10-point run.

In any case, as the focus turns away from football (at least on the field/court), how will UCLA stand up?

Go Bruins!