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UCLA Advances in the Pac-12 Tournament: A Tale of 2 Halves and 1 “Villain.”

#4 UCLA beats #5 Seed Stanford 88-77.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament - Stanford vs UCLA
UCLA pulled away in the second half due to contributions from players such as Alex Olesinski
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA played even in a first half carried by its stars and pulled away in a second half when the other guys contributed.

In the first half, Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday came out firing and had our first 13 points. The first half was a game of runs. UCLA would run out to a lead and Stanford would charge back. It also turned on who played defense. UCLA forced seven Stanford turnovers and scored 7 points off those turnovers, most early in the half for a lead. Then, UCLA went on a 1-13 streak when the subs were in, Holiday was missing and Stanford played D.

Holiday finished the half with 17 points on 12 shots with 5 assists. Kris Wilkes had 9 points and Welsh had 10 (although 8 were at the very start). UCLA was definitely too keyed on a few players. When UCLA was not turning Stanford over, they let Stanford shoot 50% from three for the half. UCLA led 44-40 at half.

The second half UCLA pulled away because of the other guys. Wilkes did not score and Holiday scored another 17, but on a lot of shots. The real key was everyone else in a strange way. Alex Olesinski missed three point blank layups but made two big threes that helped UCLA pull away. Chris Smith, by himself, seemed to put the whole Stanford team in foul trouble and shot ten free throws making six. Prince Ali added six points and Gyorgy Goloman only scored two, but they came on an emphatic dunk that seemed to put the game away.

Three Takeaways

1. UCLA won and probably locked a tournament bid.
A loss to Arizona is not a bad loss so UCLA can only help their tournament and seeding chances. It is sad that it took UCLA to the Pac-12 tournament and there are still reasons to sweat (please don’t let there be a lot of upsets in conference tournaments), but UCLA is likely in the Big Dance.

2. Holiday was the MVP of the game.
On a day where Pac-12 MVP Deandre Ayton finished with just 10 points and 6 rebounds before fouling out, the should-have-been MVP Aaron Holiday went 12-25 (5-9 from three) with 7 rebounds and 8 assists. It’s too bad they can’t have a re-vote.

3. The villain was the SPTR.
They were not biased, just ugly. They were terrible and inconsistent. For example, Welsh got fouls for no reason inside, but Alex Olesinski tried to stop a fast break with an obvious intentional foul and there was no foul call. I am glad it was not a national telecast as this crew was an embarrassment that ruined the game.

Go Bruins! Beat U of pAy!