Kentucky was the best offensive game of the year for UCLA. This 102-70 win over Southern Cal was the best overall game of the year.
The first half was a game of runs. Early on, Southern Cal was hitting some threes and UCLA had some turnovers. UCLA was seemingly waiting around for Ball. Don’t get me wrong, Ball was delivering with rebounds (5) and points (9) and even an uncredited block shot but Southern Cal was winning.
But then a couple of funny and different things happen. UCLA made a run, with Ball on the bench. It was not a fluke run. The ball movement was very good and the points were in the flow of the offense. UCLA also was awesome on the boards, winning 23-12.
The other thing was very nice team defense. Southern Cal only made 33% of their shots and the defense was good with Ball out. Honestly it was probably the best UCLA played all season with Lonzo Ball on the bench.
The key may have been the Southern Cal zone defense, which often let us free to pound the boards. Chimezie Metu was interested in swatting everything and he left the path to the offensive boards open.
The second half was all about Thomas Welsh. Welsh had a double double in the half. He went an amazing 6-6 and also had 11 rebounds. He was UCLA’s player of the game. In a sense, it was a sign of the game. Southern Cal had some great athletes but UCLA had the smarter players. Ironically, the only player to have a bad game was UCLA’s best athlete Ike Anigbogu. In contrast, GG Goloman pump-faked Metu into the air at the three-point line and then drove in for the dunk. UCLA blew away Southern Cal in the half.
1. While Ball is the best player, UCLA was the better team. UCLA played defense well for much of the game. Southern Cal mostly scored on individual effort. UCLA often scored on good shots in the offense. Southern Cal was only in the game because, at one point, they led UCLA, 21-3 in free throw attempts and, yet the classless Andy Enfield got called for a technical for bitching at the ref. This game may have been the best team game of the season. The offense has been better but the combination of offense and defense may be the best.
2. Bryce Alford had 17 points in the second half and put on show with some hot dog plays but finished with 4 assists in the half. Bryce moved up to seventh on the all-time UCLA scoring list. He had arguably the perfect last game against Southern Cal.
3. Kudos to Thomas Welsh. Welsh plays so smart and is such a contrast to Southern Cal’s bigs. Metu is classless and Boatwright is a flopper. Welsh played a perfect game with his usual class. He simply took advantage of everything that was given him in his normal workman-like fashion. He put on a clinic on clearing the boards and making the baseline jumper.