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News Roundup of UCLA 86-84 Loss to UW on Steve Alford

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NCAA Tournament chances looks perilous again

It may be time to end the Big-Big experiment
It may be time to end the Big-Big experiment
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

This is a news roundup but I am going to take a point of personal privilege before we start.  In Bruinette's roundtable I said I had never seen Steve Alford so confused on rotations and with strange combinations.  It showed in the first half of this game and to his credit Steve Alford owned up to it:

UCLA head coach Steve Alford took "full responsibility" for the his team's 86-84 home loss to Washington on Thursday night, one in which the Bruins dug themselves an early hole with an ugly first half.

"It looked like we had several guys not into the game and not ready to play," Alford said. "That falls on me. I didn't see that and didn't get that read in practice, but we had a lot of them that were very out of character in the first half."

That first half was the ugliest since a tired Bruin team was destroyed in the second game in two days in Maui by a top Kansas team.  At times in the first half UCLA made UW look like Kansas:

UCLA trailed, 51-33, at halftime, the most points the Bruins had allowed in a half in Pac-12 play and second only to the 59 they allowed in the first half to Kansas at the Maui Invitational in November.

Not only did they struggle to slow the Huskies, but they also couldn't find their footing on offense, shooting under 40 percent. Alford was held without a basket until hitting a one-legged baseline jumper one minute before halftime.

They also had 12 of their 15 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

How bad was it?

With six minutes left in the first half, UCLA had nearly as many turnovers (10) as it did points (15). At one point, the Bruins even invited boos from their own crowd.

Another reason was three starters stunk in the first half.

The Huskies shot 51 percent in the first half when they led 51-33 at the break. They hit six 3-pointers, using the long-range baskets to go on runs of 10-0 and 8-0.

Parker's early struggles epitomized the Bruins' problems in the first half. He missed his first four shots and made just 1 of 6 free throws. Big man Thomas Welsh was ineffective, too. He had just two points and three rebounds in the half and fouled out in the second, along with Aaron Holiday, who finished with 11 points and five of UCLA's 15 turnovers.

Late in the second half Bryce almost single handedly led UCLA back.  Bryce completely took over the game for a stretch:

He scored 17 of the Bruins' final 19 points. He assisted on the only other basket. He scored a game-high 28 points, 22 in the second half.

However, Bryce Alford's late game heroics were not enough because of the foolishness of Steve Alford's rotations.  To counter Washington's speed and pressing, Steve went three bigs in the first half.  Again on a point of personal privilege on these roundups, I said before the season that Big-Big lineup of Welsh and Parker could work on offense but would fail on D.

After the game, Steve Alford said he would reconsider UCLA's two-big lineup. Parker scored 16 points with nine rebounds. Center Thomas Welsh had two points and four rebounds. Reserve Jonah Bolden played 26 minutes.

"I'm starting to feel comfortable out there," Bolden said.

Steve Alford said the big lineup is "not working. We're slow."

It is more than that Steve but you should have known better and not be experimenting this deep into the season.

Go Bruins!