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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Assist of the Year

Led by Jaylen Hands 10 assists, UCLA puts on a show in 89-73 win over Stanford.

Stanford v UCLA
Kris WIlkes had a number of highlight level finishes
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

To the students and fans of the UCLA Bruins, last night’s game was fun and the headlines for this news roundup are all on “The Assist:”

Ben Bolch describes it in his LA Times story titled “UCLA adds some flash during 89-73 rout of Stanford”:

Jaylen Hands had infuriated his coach only moments earlier, chucking up a three-pointer that prompted Steve Alford to yell “Why?” so loudly that it could be heard across the court and in the upper reaches of Pauley Pavilion.

So when Hands was granted an opportunity for redemption on UCLA’s next possession, he decided to tempt fate once more. The freshman point guard went airborne and transferred the ball between his legs with his left hand before throwing an alley-oop pass with his right hand that teammate Kris Wilkes collected for a layup.

Bolch continued later in his article:

Fans roared when Wilkes threw down another alley-oop pass from Aaron Holiday for a dunk and when Hands went in for a reverse layup. UCLA was not about to lose another big lead to Stanford after squandering a 13-point advantage during the teams’ first meeting this season.

Bolch also mentions what ESPN said about it:

ESPN’s “SportsCenter” Twitter feed called it the ”ASSIST OF THE YEAR” and Hands’ teammates were equally in awe.

After the game, Jaylen Hands described it:

I remember I got the rebound, I saw Kris running and I remember I had a lot of space. So I [thought] I’ve got to do something crazy. I didn’t know what to do and it just came in my head....

An AP article on quotes Steve Alford, who was a little more reserved:

”It’s Hollywood,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “I liked that. I’m glad that was very successful, by the way ... They were having fun. We try to tell them when we get these stops it’s fun, because now we get out and run. We’re a good transition team.”

It was a Hollywood sort of night as well. UCLA PG recruit Tyger Campbell was watching the game on his official visit and was hopefully impressed. Also watching was a certain group from 50 years ago:

The Bruins made a habit of starting slow in games recently but not this time.... They surely were inspired by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the 1968 national championship team that was honored at halftime of its 50th anniversary season. The Bruins have 11 NCAA championships.

Which brings the older time, not in the moment perspective to the game for a second. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported (emphasis added):

UCLA is finally starting to look like the team that was expected to light up scoreboards in Westwood this season.

Unfortunately for Stanford, the Bruins’ most buzzworthy mixtape of a previously disappointing season came at the Cardinal’s expense.

UCLA seemingly couldn’t miss from three-point range and wore out the Pauley Pavilion operations crew with replay-demanding highlights in transition during an 89-73 ambush of Stanford on Saturday night.

The Bruins (15-7, 5-5 Pac-12) were ranked No. 21 in the preseason and underperformed their way out of the poll by Week 4. But they have responded to a three-game losing streak by winning two in a row, including shooting 52.6 percent from three-point range and stirring up the crowd with open-floor freestyling.

I know: yeah, yeah, sit down old man, last night was fun. Yep, it was and we need and should have more of that fun. I think the best analysis of the game comes from Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News:

UCLA (15-7, 6-4 Pac-12) played like the team it always hoped it would be, getting defensive stops that led to rousing transition points.

A block from Thomas Welsh set up Hands’ pass and Wilkes’ ensuing layup that gave the Bruins a 22-point lead with 11:40 to go. Wilkes turned a steal into a fastbreak windmill dunk that even gained the approval of Alford. The crowd of 10,519 roared when Wilkes threw down an alley-oop dunk out of a timeout. . . .

The cure for UCLA’s recent slow starts was a barrage of 3-pointers. The Bruins took their first five shots from beyond the arc, sinking four of them, and jumping out to an eight-point lead less than three minutes into the game. . . .

The Bruins forced seven turnovers in the first seven minutes of the second half as the lead ballooned to 20.

When UCLA hits threes and its defense sets up transition opportunities, this is a really good team and it’s fun for all. Steve Alford gets the last word:

We try to tell them that when you get stops it’s fun because then we can get out and run and we are a very good transition team. Our defense had so much slippage in those three games that we weren’t running because we were taking the ball out all the time. When you take the ball out the other guy gets to set his defense. I thought we got some really good looks and we defended well. All weekend we did a really good job defensively and now we are going to have a big time test next Saturday because they are a really good offensive team.

Of course, next Saturday the Bruins face off against Southern Cal at Pauley.

Go Bruins! Beat SC!