The first half was a WOW. The only thing that was predictable was Arizona did not get their first foul call until 8 minutes in and at 12 had two. (UCLA finished with 8 fouls to Arizona’s 4 with Wilkes with three, Welsh 2, and Holiday 2.) While Holiday and Welsh played well on defense, with Holiday messing with Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Allonzo Trier and Thomas Welsh with six rebounds, the stars were two unexpected players.
Gyorgy Goloman was off the charts on most aspects. He made future NBA first round pick Deandre Ayton a jump shooter early, had 2 blocks and 2 steals to go with a nice assist (should be two because he set Alex up with 2 free throws) and four points. GG gave up a couple offense rebounds and dunks but he was +15 for the half. He did all this with no fouls. Alford was looking brilliant by starting GG with Hands over Prince Ali.
Speaking of Jaylen Hands, WOW. Hands played some nice defense but...uhm...how do I describe the close of the half? Three times in a row in the last 56 seconds, Hands came down, did not pass, selfishly shot long threes, and . . . made them all! None were easy. The good news for the future is that, man, Hands can shoot and, boy, do we need Tyger Campbell to be at the point as Hands did not even think of passing.
The UCLA Bruins led 44-34 at half. UCLA shot 50% from three and 56% overall while they held the Arizona Wildcats to 42% and 33% from three.
In the second half, Arizona went on a 10-4 run with some dunks and layups to open the half. Then, UCLA’s defense tightened. Holiday was also passing well and everyone was scoring. But the offense was led by GG!!? GG had nine points as UCLA had its lead in double digits again with 6:40 left up.
Then, it became Holiday time. As Bruins played the clock, Holiday made two free throws, a basket, then had two drives and dishes for threes to Wilkes and. . . GG! That was enough for UCLA to win.
1. Player of the Game: Gyorgy Goloman. He played the best game of his career. 6-8 (3-4 from 3), assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 16 points, and a game-leading and career-high 36 minutes. He was a +10 in the +/-. And, did I mention already that he played the best game of his career? GG did a decent job (with laspes) on defense and played smart.
2. We are dancing again. UCLA was in the first four out going into this one. Really, UCLA needed to win 2 out of 3 against Southern Cal, Arizona, and ASU. This was the most important as it gives us a quality ROAD win. We are certainly not a lock, but, as of now, we are in and can even afford a couple more losses (depending on who they are to).
3. Defense keys the offense. Bill Walton may be still feeling the after effects of his last Dead concert but he is right. This team is not a great set offense team. That said, when this team plays defense as it did tonight (Lottery pick and 60%+ shooter Ayton went 7-19), they can play against anyone as they can get out and run and make things happen.