UCLA came out nervous in their 82-79 comeback win over Oregon. Leaf and Ball had quick fouls. For the first time, Ball looked like a lost freshman in the first half. Ball finished the half -14 on the plus/minus with zero assists and two turnovers. UCLA, as a team, had no assists in the first 11 minutes and UCLA was down 37-18 with 6:37 left with the points coming off one-on-one efforts.
Then Aaron Holiday and Bryce Alford led a 14-0 run comeback with Ball on the bench. Holiday ran the offense well and Alford hit threes and even got a steal (actually it was a foul as he knocked the ball away and the Oregon player grabbed him for an offense foul). UCLA closed to within 5 until Tyler Dorsey hit an old fashion three-point play with a drive and foul on Welsh. Oregon ended the half up 9, 48-39.
At least, the defense was consistent. It was awful. Oregon shot 50% and only had one turnover.
In the second half, UCLA made conscious effort to work the ball into Leaf early and committed to the zone after Dillion Brooks opened the half destroying TJ Leaf. The effort in the zone was good even when the execution was not and UCLA made a bit of a comeback. But they did not force turnovers.
Then a second run (20 to 3) was keyed when Ball went on Brooks. UCLA’s defense became tough. Oregon missed 7 field goals and went from shooting 54% early in the half down to 42% for the game. The only problem was the defensive boards.
That is except for one guy. Lonzo “Winner” Ball was having a bad game as a point guard so he did it with his defense and with 11 defensive rebounds. Then Lonzo the scorer took over at the end of the game for 5 clutch points that helped UCLA to the lead and a very nice comeback win.
1. Defense, yes, defense won the game for UCLA. Oregon shot 33% in the second half. A combination of zone and Lonzo Ball on Oregon’s star Dillon Brooks was the difference.
2. Aaron Holiday was the quiet star of the game. He hit some big shots (including the last two free throws) and had 7 defensive rebounds.
3. Lonzo Ball is a great one. He finished with one assist and three turnovers. That’s ugly for a point guard. He also finished with 10 points in the second half and 7 defensive rebounds (11 for the game). Lonzo is the definition of a player who does whatever it takes to win. He “saved” UCLA’s regular season.