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News Roundup of the Anti-Kentucky Win

UCLA avoids a let down against a team of three shooters

Isaac Hamilton hits the shot that iced the game
Isaac Hamilton hits the shot that iced the game
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA had a narrow 83-76 win during finals in Pauley over Long Beach State.  It was not just a potential let down game after the Kentucky win, it was an opposite in styles game: As Bryce Alford said:

On the game plan compared to the Kentucky game

"It's difficult to adjust since it's an opposite team. You go from one team that you want to shoot the three to a team where you have to stop the three. We did a decent enough job to win."

As Steve Alford said:

Basketball- wise, this was going to be a tough game, and we knew it. That team has played a lot of good teams already. They are used to playing a difficult schedule. We knew it would be hard coming off the Kentucky win. But we can't be a team of excuses; we need to be one of growth. And we did grow. We did a good job of valuing the ball in a game that went up and down. Tony (Parker) and Thomas (Welsh) each had another double-double. Bryce (Alford) and Isaac (Hamilton) were scoring and taking care of the ball. We're still not as nasty as I want to be, though. We're going to take a break for finals, but we have another tough contest at Gonzaga. All in all I'm pretty pleased. They are a well-coached team and a very good team.

Bryce Alford kept UCLA in the game in the first half as Long Beach State started fast:

Long Beach State opened up an early 11-5 lead thanks to two 3-pointers from Nick Faust, who scored 24 points and pulled down seven rebounds. The 49ers led by as many as nine points with six minutes to play in the first half while making seven of their 17 shots from behind the arc.

UCLA was able close the gap behind smart play from Alford. The junior hit a 3-pointer, found Parker for an easy layup and hit another 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to cut the Long Beach State lead to 38-37 at halftime.

His back court mate, Isaac Hamilton, hit the shot that iced the game:

The Bruins led 78-76 with about a minute left when junior guard Isaac Hamilton cut across the lane and hit a runner while being fouled to seal the win.

As that indicates this was a close game and Long Beach State had a good game plan.

Coach Dan Monson, a friend of Steve Alford's, said he watches every UCLA game he can. His familiarity led to a plan: keep the ball in the guards' hands and try to force turnovers.

That seemed to work in the first half but in the second half UCLA figured out what to do.

UCLA still fed the ball inside — Tony Parker made eight of 12 shots for 16 points, Thomas Welsh made seven of 12 for 15 and each had 10 rebounds — but, offensively, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton met Monson's challenge.

Seven minutes into the second half, the two guards outscored Long Beach State, 13-10. After Bryce Alford made a three-pointer — he made five of 10 for a game-high 24 points — Monson called a timeout. The Bruins ran into the huddle, high-fiving each other.

Hamilton contributed 21 points. At one point, UCLA led by 12 points.

I still think the key was going inside out.  When the Bruins work the ball around this can be a fun offense to watch.  As the Press Telegram wrote:

The two Bruins big men sparked a run to start the second half and UCLA took a 47-43 lead on a Hamilton breakaway dunk.

However, one has to wonder what would have happen if Long Beach State was not tired from their fourth game in six days:

Long Beach State (4-5), which was playing its fourth game in six days as well as a back-to-back, built a first-half lead from beyond the arc, hitting 7 of 17 attempts from 3-point range.

Guard Nick Faust, who tied Alford with a game-high 24 points, hit 4 of 7 3-pointer during the first half.

The 49ers faded a little in the second half, but finished 11 of 30 on 3s and shot 47 percent overall from the field.

It was the second-highest number of 3s that UCLA has given up in a game this season.

In the end it was a win in a potential trap game against a team that was arguably a tough match up for UCLA.  Now two of the next three games are against teams that are arguably better match ups but also much better teams.  As Steve Alford said:

"This is the first year we're going big-big. That's a tough assignment. Tony (Parker) is out there guarding guards. I thought we did a good job on (Travis) Hammonds because he's a guard playing the four spot, but it's a little bit different. That becomes difficult when our bigs are constantly on the floor. We are going to work on that. But Gonzaga it's big-big, Carolina is big-big. When we get into Pac-12 play, it's going to be the same. But this is going to prepare us for Pac-12 season."

Go Bruins!