Just like eating cupcakes, playing cupcake basketball teams is supposed to be fun. Last night was definitely that; as the star of the game Jaylen Hands said:
That was the most fun we’ve had in a game this year, so that was a really big deal and I think it’s a really big confidence booster going into the next stretch of games we have before conference play. So that was really fun to do.”
Thuc Nhi Nguyen wrote in the Orange County Register:
Prince Ali pushed the ball ahead to Jaylen Hands. Hands took it and elevated for a two-handed reverse dunk.
Detroit Mercy’s Josh McFolley stood in the corner on the opposite end of the court and scratched his head.
The Titans were reduced to spectators to UCLA’s run-and-gun, dunk contest Sunday night as the Bruins dominated in a 106-73 win at Pauley Pavilion.
On the heels of what head coach Steve Alford called their worst offensive performance of the year, the Bruins (7-1) were on pace to shoot a season-high percentage from the field before emptying their bench late in the game. They tied their season-high in points, set in an overtime win against Central Arkansas, and held the Titans, the seventh-highest scoring team in the country known for a fast pace of play, to 43.1 percent shooting and just two fast-break points.
Detroit Mercy entered the game playing at the fifth-fastest pace of any team in the nation, per KenPom.com, and UCLA took advantage by getting out in transition. The Bruins held the Titans to just 43.1 percent shooting, including just 33.3 percent from behind the arc, and scored 19 points off turnovers on the night.
These easy opportunities helped UCLA produce its highest offensive efficiency of the night, according to KenPom.com, with the Bruins shooting 52.8 percent and connecting on 11 3-pointers. They turned the ball over just eight times.
Of course, Hands describes how he had fun, not just on offense, but also on defense:
One time, they ran the play three times in a row, I think. The third time he came down, he was going to throw it to the big, so I just baited him… and the second time, he wasn’t paying attention to me, so I just back-tapped it. It was just anticipation and knowing what they were about to do
But, back to the fun offense...the LA Times wrote a story on dunking (or so it seemed.) A sample paragraph:
Hands’ final points came on a reverse dunk during a second half filled with highlight plays for the Bruins. Forward Kris Wilkes made a reverse windmill dunk and guard Aaron Holiday caused his defender to fall with a crossover dribble that he followed with a jumper that gave the Bruins a 33-point lead.
The LA Times also had the strangest note and bit of trivia:
Detroit forward Roschon Prince completed what might have been an unprecedented feat just by checking into the game in the first half. The graduate transfer was playing for his third team inside Pauley Pavilion in five seasons.
The former Long Beach Poly High star scored six points for USC as a freshman during the Trojans’ 30-point blowout loss against UCLA in January 2014. He sat out the next season before scoring three points for Long Beach State during the 49ers’ 83-76 loss to UCLA in December 2015. He scored 10 points for the 49ers in November 2016 during their 114-77 defeat against the Bruins.
Prince received the dreaded “airball” chant from fans after misfiring on a jumper late in the first half and finished with four points. Guard Kameron Chatman led the Titans (4-4) with 18 points.
Despite all the dunks and points, this game was very encouraging for the defense. Coach Steve Alford said:
Where I’m really seeing growth is in trusting each other defensively. We are really seeing an awful lot of help and attention to detail of what we want them to do defensively.
I thought that was maybe our most complete game. I was really pleased with the 40-minute effort. We were concerned with their 3-point shooting and how much they score the basketball. To put two halves together defensively like we did, it was very good for us. We were really efficient offensively. I think our offensive efficiency hit 133 tonight. Really pleased with that. Everybody that played, played well. Those are always fun nights.