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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Team Takes A Holiday But Aaron Doesn’t

UCLA beats WSU, 96-82

NCAA Basketball: Central Arkansas at UCLA
Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh both joined the 1000 point club
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was the Aaron Holiday Show in every way, shape and form. First. the obvious from the Daily Bruin:

Aaron Holiday was four points away from setting his single-game point record – at halftime.

The junior guard matched it with his 27th point midway through the second half before slowing down and totaling 33 to lead unranked UCLA men’s basketball (10-3, 1-0 Pac-12) to a 96-82 win over Washington State (8-5, 0-1) on Friday.

I disagree with the slowing down part. While Holiday keyed the offense in the first half, the Daily News notes that he keyed the defense in the second half:

UCLA was up 11 after a layup from Gyorgy Goloman, but back-to-back threes from Washington State’s Carter Skaggs cut the lead to 56-51. Later, Skaggs hit another three to bring the Cougars to within two with 9:05 left.

If Holiday wasn’t doing enough already, the 6-foot-1 guard then switched to play defense on the 6-foot-5 Skaggs later in the game.

“I just felt like that was something our team needed at the time,” Holiday said.

As Holiday added in the postgame:

on who made the call to switch him onto Carter Skaggs defensively

“I don’t remember if [Coach Alford] did or not. I just wanted to stop the guy who’s scoring. I feel like my defense is pretty good, even though [Skaggs] is what, 6-5? I feel I can guard him. That’s what we did.”

But we’re still not done describing Holiday’s great game. More from the Daily News:

Holiday recorded 11 rebounds, was 5-for-5 from three, and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. But UCLA coach Steve Alford was more impressed with two numbers on Holiday’s boxscore: 40 minutes, zero turnovers.

In his postgame interview, Alford addressed the only arguably troubling number: 40 minutes for Aaron Holiday:

My staff said something to me in both the first half and the second half about a good time to give Aaron a rest and I said no both times. He’s just very crucial to our team. I’ll have to pick and choose when I get him rest. Tomorrow will be a day of rest for him. We will find times for him. We get into a routine after this week of Thursday-Saturday games. We will be able to get him a lot of rest even if that means day off Sunday and maybe even Monday. We have a lot of young guys that need reps. We will start finding him some rest in practice now that we have more bodies. Unless he is in foul trouble he will be out there a long time. We are just a whole different team when he is on the court. He had a very special night. He was really good defensively to start the game. He frustrated [Washington State’s Malachi] Flynn all night. Flynn ended up with nine points on 3 of 9 shooting and a lot of that had to do with Aaron. He got it done offensively but he was really good defensively.

On the “more bodies in practice” part: it is worth noting that Jalen Hill and Cody Riley are now part of the team. They can practice, just not play in games. Ben “I-have-to-mention-China-in-every-story” Bolch of the LA Times pointed out:

Two familiar faces rejoined the Bruins on their bench. Jalen Hill and Cody Riley made their first appearance in Pauley Pavilion since the freshman forwards were suspended last month for shoplifting in China while their team prepared to face Georgia Tech in its season opener.

While it was Aaron’s show last night, it was also a big night for Thomas Welsh. Welsh scored his thousand point in a very Welsh-like manner. Jaylen Hands stated:

Yeah, it’s really fun. To speak to that, like you said, he had [999] points and was under the rim and threw it out. So that really speaks to Tom’s character and how he plays. It’s always fun playing with him, just to know that if you plan to get open you can get the ball....

Yes, Welsh had a chance to get his thousand career point and passed out to open Hands for a three. Welsh is really one of a kind.

The final note goes to UCLA’s twin veteran stars this year, Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh. From the Bradenton Herald:

UCLA: The Bruins improved its record against the Cougars to 107-17. Holiday also became the 13th UCLA player in history with at least 1,000 points and 300 assists. Holiday now has 1016 points and 356 assists. Welsh has 1,001 points and 819 rebounds in his career, only the 12th player to score 1,000 points and 800 rebounds.

PAC-12 PLAYER of the WEEK

Holiday was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the first time in his career after averaging 17.5 points and 6.5 assists in wins over South Dakota and No. 7 Kentucky.

Go Bruins!