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Freshman David Singleton Leads Sloppy UCLA to a 98-83 Victory Over UC Berkeley

Forgotten freshman has a big first half that helps to inspire the Bruins

NCAA Basketball: Long Beach State at UCLA
Singleton keeps the winning ways going
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA started ugly. Brown was off and quickly benched. Then, UCLA started jacking up threes which, along with free throws, is the only thing UC Berkeley is better than UCLA at. The UCLA Bruins also strangely started in a zone. This start should not have happened as the UC Berkeley Golden Bears were even without their starting point guard.

Berkeley was the better team until David Singleton entered the game. Singleton quickly scored 11 points hitting his first four shots while bringing an intensity to the defensive side. UCLA and UC Berkeley traded leads and then the Golden Bears started turning the ball over as UCLA went on run. A key play was a pickpocket steal by Hands that led to an intentional foul by UC Berkeley. UCLA’s press was making good things happen and really hurting the Bears. Meanwhile, the Bruins built the lead out to 13 ending with a spectacular dunk by Prince Ali.

But Ali committed a stupid foul in the press in the backcourt sending UC Berkeley to the line with 5.8 seconds left in the first half. Making matters worse after two free throws and a timeout to call a play, the Bruins turned the ball over which led to a last second three by the Bears. It looked like the same play by UCLA that failed against Belmont.

Long story short, the start and finish were the same old frustrating Bruins. The middle with a real press, led by Singleton, and a real outside shooter hitting open threes, led to a lead. Singleton had a career high of 14 points in the first half on 5 of 7 shooting, including 3 of 4 from three, along with two assists and a steal.

There were some odd lineups today. Bartow rode the hot hands of Singleton and Ali for a game leading 16 and 14 minutes, respectively. But, at one point, he played Jalen Hill, Cody Riley, and Moses Brown at the same time and closed out the half with Kenneth Nwumba, Alex Olesinski, Singleton, Ali and Kris Wilkes. That said, the press is now a weapon and kudos to Coach Bartow for using it.

The start of the second half was the more heralded freshman Moses Brown‘s time to shine. He scored on put-backs, ran the break once and even made a couple free throws for 12 points in the first seven minutes. UCLA kept the Bears around, though, with some silly plays. An Ali home run dunk attempt went off the rim. Ali went down and the Bruins turned it over to the Bears. Chris Smith and Hands each threw the ball away in ugly turnovers. But, again, Brown was too much and the lead increased.

Kris Wilkes also carved up Berkeley’s defense for 10 points, but then Jules Bernard, aka Prince Ali Jr., took over. After missing an ugly drive shot and making an even uglier turnover, Bernard got hot from behind the three-point arc. He hit three threes, including one off a jab step as the shot clock expired. Like Ali, Bernard makes you shake your head, but then makes some big plays.

Chris Smith drained free throws for the Bruins as time ran down and UCLA had won by 15.

Three takeaways

1. Player of the Game. David Singleton is what this team needs. A player who takes good shots, plays smart and gives his all. He was a team-high plus 16 in the +/- stats but his impact was even bigger. His effort was contagious in the press and let UCLA overcome a bad start. In the second half, freshmen Moses Brown and Jules Bernard came up big too.

2. Area of concern. 22 turnovers! UC Berkeley was not pressing either. Many turnovers were just plain ugly. The Bruins have a habit of throwing lazy lob passes that the Golden Bears picked off for layups. UC Berkeley had 19 points off turnovers and this is why the game was not a blow out.

3. What it means. UCLA is 2-0 in the Pac-12, but they beat two bad teams. Interim Coach Bartow is doing a good job of riding the hot hand and pulling guys who make mistakes. That said, this is still a team that can shoot itself in the foot.

Go Bruins!