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UCLA Basketball Beats a Bad Team as Forgotten Players Shine

News Roundup. Led by two players that were ignored by Ben Howland, UCLA dominates Oakland Michigan.

High flying Norman Powell.
High flying Norman Powell.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

After a slow first ten minutes, UCLA dominated a bad Oakland team led by two players who would not be at UCLA if former Coach Ben Howland stayed.

A few months ago, with Steve Alford's hire generating little enthusiasm, the UCLA athletic department released a curious statement of defense: Why not focus on his early success, including the retention of nearly the entire roster?

Laughable as that proclamation was, the two potential transfers in question didn't look too shabby in Tuesday night's 91-60 win over Oakland University at Pauley Pavilion.

Sophomore center Tony Parker, who stayed due to the addition of strength coach Wes Long, filed in a career night: 19 points and 12 rebounds, both marks eclipsing the 12 and five he had against James Madison a year ago. . . .

Stuck in highlight-reel mode was Norman Powell, who said he would have likely left had Ben Howland not been fired. The junior guard flushed in a pair of thundering alley-oops, including an emphatic one-hander down the lane. He finished with 18 points, four rebounds and two assists.

The numbers were good for Parker and Powell as was the style, with a number of emphatic dunks.

Tony Parker recorded career highs with 21 points and 12 rebounds for UCLA (2-0), which held Oakland to 30.8 percent shooting. Norman Powell added 18 points while Kyle Anderson collected eight points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Bruins.

. . . The Bruins put together runs of 8-0 and 9-3 which were highlighted by dunks from Powell and Parker, respectively, to build a 34-20 lead. Parker had 11 points and Adams 10 while UCLA held Oakland to 29 percent shooting in the opening half to push the lead to 44-24 at intermission.

Parker converted two layups and Powell added another to start the second half as the Bruins pulled away.

The domination was complete over a bad Oakland team outside the first ten minutes.  It was helped by UCLA bigs Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and David Wear staying out of foul trouble this game.

The Golden Grizzlies trailed by two points with 9:22 remaining in the first half thanks, in part to their strong rebounding and their ability to get the ball inside against the Bruins.

It didn't last. The Bruins picked up the tempo and ended the first half on a 27-9 run.

"Coach has been on me about keeping my hands up and staying out of foul trouble," Parker said. "The coach has to trust me so I have to play hard. I tried to do my dirty work early. It was hard to box me out but I know I also have to work on my free throws."

Alford challenged both Parker and David Wear to stay out of foul trouble. That's because he needs them on the court until his taller reinforcements -- 6-foot-10 Travis Wear and 6-9 Wanaah Bail -- get healthy.

. . .UCLA's 18-2 run gave it a 68-34 lead with 11:36 remaining in the game.

It is hard to take too much from this win.  But one other not-Ben Howland item was on display: zone.

UCLA started in man to man and, as expected, switched to zone midway through the first half when Bryce Alford and another freshman, Zach LaVine, entered the game.

"We are better in zone than man defense at this point," Steve Alford said.

The change caught Oakland off-guard, creating three quick turnovers as UCLA opened a five-point lead. At the other end of the floor, Oakland's zone proved less troublesome.

The cynic in me says UCLA needs to play zone when Bryce is in the game.  But then again defense is the hardest thing for freshman to learn so there is that.

The closing of this news roundup has to go to Norman Powell.  While Tony Parker won the headlines Tuesday with the best game of his career, Powell has been consistently playing well so far in this short season.  While Howland tried to make Powell into a three point shooter, Powell is now free to show off his true game.  On his spectacular dunks including a one handed alley oop jam, Powell said:

"If you throw the ball up there," Powell said, "I'll go find it."

Go Bruins!