The UCLA Bruins are alive and kicking for a NCAA Tournament bid as UCLA avenged their heartbreaking January 4, double overtime loss to the Stanford Cardinal with an easy 89-73 win tonight at Pauley Pavilion
Other than a short period during the first half, this game was one of the Bruins most well-played games of the year. UCLA’s offense was effective because the ball movement was crisp and flowing. UCLA’s defense was effective because the zone was active and effective, and Stanford could not hit consistently from behind the arc to get UCLA out of the zone.
The Bruins started off the half on fire, after the first media timeout they went through a little bit of a lull, and then finished the half on fire once again with a 27-11 run and a 49-36 lead.
The start of their run coincided with the Bruins heading to their zone defense, and that spurt of Bruins basketball was one of their better exhibitions of basketball this year.
UCLA ended the first half shooting 59% from the field, 64% from behind the arc, and for the most unbelievable stat, the Bruins were 10/12 from the line.
The most promising and enjoyable part of the first half was the way the Bruins were sharing the basketball. The Bruins had 12 assists on 16 made FG’s. The combination of Hands and Holiday combined for 11 of the assists.
Another nice sight was the 12 combined points off the bench for the Bruins during the first half. Goloman and Olesinski were very active and provided a nice spark.
UCLA started off the half active on both sides of the ball. An 8-0 run put UCLA up 62-42 early in the second half.
The play of the game came at the 11:40 mark when Welsh blocked the shot, Hands got the ball on a breakaway and instead of taking it all the way to the basket, he passed the ball between his legs for a lob that was converted by Wilkes at the rim. It definitely wasn’t the fundamentally correct way to run the fast-break, but there was not a single person that saw Hands’ pass to Wilkes that would have liked to have seen a fundamentally sound fast-break.
UCLA cruised from that point and never let the Cardinal back into the game.
UCLA shot both 53% from the field and behind the arc. In something we have not seen all year, the Bruins shot 23/25 at the line, as the horrible free throw shooting Thomas Welsh was the only one to miss tonight for the Bruins.
UCLA was paced by Aaron Holiday’s 21 points. Thomas Welsh had another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jaylen Hands had another solid game with 9 points and 10 assists.
The Stanford Cardinal were led Daejon Davis’ 23 points.
The UCLA Bruins now head into a very difficult part of their schedule, and it all starts against Southern Cal next Saturday.
UCLA Player Grades
Aaron Holiday A-
Holiday is the motor for the Bruins. He continues to be deadly from both the outside and taking the ball to the rim. TO’s continue to linger.
Jaylen Hands B+
Holiday and Hands together create our best lineup. Hands didn’t shoot well tonight, but he was active once again and only had one TO.
Kris Wilkes A
His skill-set is so scary. He can score in so many ways, and when he plays like this, UCLA is tough to beat.
Prince Ali B
The enigma. This was a nice game for Ali. The Bruins need Ali to contribute just like he did tonight on a consistent basis.
Thomas Welsh A-
Mr. Double-Double. Welsh played a solid game and played solid defense against Stanford’s bigs.
Gyorgy Goloman C+
GG played pretty well tonight. He came in during the first half and was active and contributed immediately.
Alex Olesinski C
Ole played similarly to GG, as he did his damage in the first half of the game.
Chris Smith C-
Smith had limited minutes tonight.