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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Game Plan Good, Execution Often Ugly

UCLA plays half a good game but that is enough to beat Oregon State

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at UCLA
UCLA did a good job defensively on Tres Tinkle
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

As I write this, the official link to post game quotes for the UCLA Bruins’ 75-68 win over the Oregon State Beavers goes to a 10/1/2016 UCLA football win over Arizona. In a way, that screw up is appropriate after the mess of a game UCLA played against an Oregon State team that last won a conference road game in 2016.

First, the bad news: UCLA ended both halves just plain ugly.

UCLA turned what look like it was going to be a blowout into a close first half. As the Thuc Nhi Nguyen points out at the Daily News:

With their double-digit lead in hand, the Bruins got complacent on offense. They chucked up long shots that allowed the Beavers to take long rebounds and run in transition. Six UCLA turnovers in the first half turned into 11 points for Oregon State. After OSU didn’t get a single fast-break point in the first 14 minutes of the game, it had six in the final eight minutes of the first half, cutting UCLA’s lead to two with a dunk from Drew Eubanks with 1:51 left before the break.

UCLA had only two made field goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half, going 2 for 12 from the field during the last stretch before going into the locker room.

Oregon State took a one-point lead on a pair of free throws from Stephen Thompson Jr. with 14:58 to go, capping 10 unanswered points by the Beavers.

UCLA closed the game ugly as well.

Despite missing 13 free throws in the second half and going without a field goal for the final 5:24, UCLA avenged an earlier loss to Oregon State, winning 75-68 Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion.

So how did UCLA beat Oregon State? Well, as the Daily Bruin points out, the point of emphasis worked:

Throughout the week leading up to Thursday night’s matchup against Oregon State, UCLA was focused on one thing above all: rebounding....

It paid off, as the Bruins (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12) dominated the Beavers (13-12, 5-8) on the boards en route to a 75-68 home victory, avenging a Jan. 18 loss in which Oregon State snagged a whopping 18 offensive rebounds.

Led by a 15-point, 17-board performance from senior center Thomas Welsh, UCLA out-rebounded Oregon State 51-33 on Sunday and allowed just six offensive rebounds. Redshirt sophomore forward Alex Olesinski notched eight rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench, helping the Bruins survive when senior forward GG Goloman found himself in foul trouble.

GG had a rough game on defense and was destroyed by the Beavers’ fifth option Alfred Hollins. However, the good news was UCLA’s defense was excellent against the Beavers’ big three:

Hollins’ breakout performance was offset by supbar outings from the Beavers’ top three scorers. The trio – guard Stephen Thompson, Jr., and forwards Tres Tinkle and Drew Eubanks – combined for just 30 points, well below their average of 48.1.

In contrast, UCLA’s big two, both had good games. As the LA Times notes:

UCLA center Thomas Welsh, playing his first game without a protective mask since early January, grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds to go with his 15 points on seven-for-12 shooting. Welsh snagged nine offensive rebounds, helping the Bruins reverse their fortunes in that department after being manhandled by the Beavers last month. UCLA collected 18 offensive rebounds Thursday to Oregon State’s six.

Aaron Holiday also had a double-double with his season high in assists as the Bruins look ahead to Welsh, GG, and Holiday’s last home game Saturday:

Holiday had his second double-double of the season and his first of the point-assist variety this season.

Welsh netted his 15th double-double of the season in his second-to-final collegiate home game. Welsh, along with fellow seniors Gyorgy Goloman, Ikenna Okwarabizie and Alec Wulff, will appear in Pauley Pavilion for the final time in their respective careers on Saturday when the Bruins host Oregon at 7:15 p.m. The quartet of UCLA seniors will be honored prior to the game during a “Senior Night” ceremony.

Bottom line: UCLA did a good job executing its game plan on the boards and defensively but it was still a needless ugly game with missed free throws, three points, and bad turnovers.

UCLA’s push-the-pace plan helped the Bruins build leads as large as 13 points in the first half, but they held only a 42-36 advantage at halftime after some careless possessions. UCLA guard Jaylen Hands tried to get fancy on a lob that went for a turnover and hoisted a handful of difficult three-pointers that were off the mark.

”I told them in the timeout we’re not into degree of difficulty,” Alford said. “It’s not gymnastics; we don’t get more points for style. Be simple. Be disciplined in what you’re doing and make the simple play, and I thought in the second half we did that.”

Go Bruins!