If you read the stories about the game last night, you would have thought UCLA lost. Bandwagon Bill Plaschke predictably writes a story entitled: "Bruins get the win but know they have to play better". Plaschke writes:
USC should have won this game.
UCLA needs to think about that as it advances into a postseason that is quickly making them skittish.
On a tumultuous late Thursday night at the T-Mobile Arena, the Bruins were the official winners in the crosstown rubber match in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament, defeating USC, 76-74.
There are so many things wrong with this. Keep in mind that UCLA never trailed in this game. And, yes, UCLA was disjointed and the biggest reason was simple:
Lonzo Ball had a turnover and two fouls before his first postseason game was 3 minutes old.
Nothing came easy for the star guard Thursday night, but No. 3 UCLA did just enough to advance in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Isaac Hamilton scored 22 points, and the Bruins held off rival Southern California 76-74 in the quarterfinals.
"It was tough," Ball said of his early foul trouble. "But credit to the coaching staff and teammates. You can't win this game with one person. They stepped up, Ham carried us on offense, and we got the stops we needed to win."
Plan and simple, this is Lonzo’s team. Without Lonzo on the floor against an athletic Southern Cal, UCLA struggled.
However, again, UCLA beat “JustSC”. Further, Isaac Hamilton, quite frankly the biggest worry for UCLA fans, played well. Bryce Alford set the three point record but struggled as did Aaron Holiday. That said, here are some more stats from the official site:
Senior guard Bryce Alford set UCLA's career record for most made three-pointers when he nailed his 318th career three-pointer at the 5:00 mark in the first half ... Alford now has 319 career three-pointers, the fourth-best mark in the history of the Pac-12 ... freshman guard Lonzo Ball finished with seven assists, pushing his season total to 248 (ranks second on UCLA's single-season assists list behind Larry Drew II's total of 256, set in 2012-13) ... in addition, Ball's single-season total of 248 assists is tied for the fourth-highest total in Pac-12 history.
Another encouraging sign for UCLA was, again, how they won. Steve Alford said:
"We didn't have too many tough shooting nights [this season], and tonight was one of those," said UCLA head coach Steve Alford, who saw his team shoot 41.2 percent from the field. "We were able to get enough stops and we held them to 38 percent shooting. So, I thought we did some good things and got some stops."
UCLA is playing better defense. They won this game on D. That’s a good sign, like Isaac’s scoring.
Southern Cal showed their class, or lack thereof, blaming the refs for the loss. This is funny since a better argument can be made the refs kept them in the game. UCLA shot only 13 free throws to JustSC’s 25. Further, Ball’s foul trouble in the first half kept them in the game. Still Enfield continues to whine in the loss. Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register quotes Enfield:
USC coach Andy Enfield threw off his suit jacket after Jonah Mathews was called for a blocking foul with five minutes left, and later ripped off his tie when Stewart was whistled for a foul on UCLA center Thomas Welsh a minute later. Enfield needed to be restrained by his assistant coaches, as well.
“We missed a few layups and we missed a follow-up,” Enfield said. “Honestly, if one of those goes in and we get a few calls, maybe we have a chance to win.”
A few calls the other way, gee, one on Lonzo’s second foul, and it probably was not a game. It might be good that Lonzo only played 33 minutes because we are going to need him tonight.
Go Bruins! Beat the Wildcats!