I have always admitted to a man-crush on Kyle Anderson. Last night he justified my crush. UCLA beat Weber State but started slowly.
Weber State took an early lead thanks to some hot shooting but the Wildcats cooled down quickly. UCLA used a 22-5 run in the first half to build a 33-21 lead, and were never threatened again.
Things didn't always go the Bruins' way. UCLA started off slowly, connecting on just three of its first nine field goals. The Bruins turned that around quickly enough, hitting on eight of their next 10.
Weber State (2-5), meanwhile, did the opposite. The Wildcats scored on four of their first six shots before converting just two of their next 12.
That led to a 22-5 run by the Bruins that turned a 16-11 deficit into a 33-21 lead.
Anderson was the catalyst in the opening half, scoring 15 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out five assists.
Kyle took over when the Bruins were down in every way.
It started with a 3-pointer, it was followed by a steal, then punctuated by an assist on a fastbreak.
Those plays were what composed a one-minute clinic by sophomore Kyle Anderson that in tune turned into the anatomy of a big UCLA run to put the Bruins in firm control against Weber State.
Anderson's superb all-around play led UCLA to an 83-60 victory against an outgunned Wildcats squad at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday.
Some more details on that dominant performance which only failed to be a triple double because of the blowout:
With 13:30 left on the game clock, the 6-foot-9 point guard had 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He quieted down the rest of the way, and ended the game on the bench with four more points and another rebound. It was enough for his sixth double-double of the season, and 14th of his career.
"I don't worry about that stuff," he said, when asked if he was aware of how close he'd been. "If I do everything I'm supposed to do and play as hard as I can, and help my team, that's going to come by itself."
The sophomore did set another personal best: his 23 points were a career-high, breaking his previous high of 21, which he had reached twice. He shot 6-of-9 from the field, and drained 9 of his 10 attempts at the free-throw line.
He hit both his 3-point shots, and is now 60 percent from beyond the arc this season. He finished his freshman campaign at 21.1 percent.
Anderson said last week that he's worked with the coaching staff to adjust his shooting form, but also attributes the improvement to a mental leap: "I had it in my head that I was going to become a better shooter. I trusted my confidence."
Of course, Weber State is not a good team. One funny sequence summed it up.
Zach LaVine was even given a mulligan of sorts during the run. He missed on a dunk shot but moments later made amends for it when Weber State's Royce Williams missed a short jump shot.
Tony Parker grabbed the rebound and the Bruins went on the attack. This time LaVine was able to slam the ball home, extending the Bruins' lead to 68-44. Another miss by Williams led to a layup by Parker and a 70-44 advantage.
Tony Parker and Bryce Alford had good games as well; Bryce tied his career high in assists.
Tony Parker finished with 15 points and five rebounds, while Bryce Alford logged 10 points, six assists and zero turnovers.
The Alfords were happy as well, with the team effort and defense.
"We've been getting beat in the second 20 minutes," Bryce Alford said. "Missouri, Duke, they beat us in the second half. Even Prairie View beat us in the second half. It was something that we concentrated a lot on in the last couple of days, playing hard a full 40 minutes."
[Steve] Alford said he thought the Bruins made strides defensively: "I think it's the best second half on defense we've had."
"After the Duke game, I challenged this team," he said. "I wanted to know they hurt and that they really hurt after the second half. Until you can understand losing, you can't understand winning.
"In practice, I said, 'Let's play all 40 minutes tonight.... And, overall, I think we played a good 40 minutes."
More than the effort, the difference was Kyle. As Jack Wang wrote yesterday before the game:
Averaging 13.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists is pretty good for any college player regardless of age. If you were expecting him to jump to around 20 points per game, that was probably unrealistic. It's not Anderson's game to just pour in buckets, but he's the most dangerous triple-double threat in the conference. While he still has a lot of work to do offensively, his shooting this season is noticeably better than it was his first year.
Thank you Kyle. Go Bruins