Tonight, the Bruins easily disposed of the Pacific Tigers 119-80 at Pauley Pavilion. It was the start of the Lonzo Ball era (or is the Lonzo Ball season more appropriate?) for UCLA.
And, what a start it was!
Right off the opening tip, Ball took a pass from Bryce Alford and Lonzo made a three-pointer to give UCLA a 3-0 lead and the Bruins never gave up the lead during the entire game. Ball’s shot would be followed by two more UCLA three-pointers by Bryce Alford, who led all scorers on the night with 30 points. That gave UCLA a quick 9-3 lead.
Pacific went on a small 4-0 run to close the gap to 9-7 and that’s as close as the Tigers would get.
Ball stretched the Bruins lead to 7 points by adding another 3 and a dunk to make it 14-7 UCLA.
All told Ball would finish with 19 points and 11 assists. He nearly had a triple-double in his first college game, but he only added 8 rebounds to his other stats. Meanwhile, the Bruins’ other freshman star TJ Leaf also had a double-double with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
The duo also led the team in defensive rebounds. Leaf had 9 and Ball had 8. Thomas Welsh added another 6. Overall, UCLA had 32 defensive rebounds. The team also had 8 steals and 4 blocks.
Overall, that looks good on paper, but let’s not get too overjoyed by these stats. It was, after all, against Pacific. Not only that, but the team did give up a total of 80 points.
So, it’s hard to use this game as a measuring stick of how the team is playing defense.
When you put up 63 points in the first half, your opponents are going to probably score a lot just because they are getting the ball back so frequently.
The teams went to the locker room with the score 63-39.
Overall, though, the team seemed to play a consistent game as well.
The second half started much the same way that the first half started — with a series of three-pointers by UCLA as the Bruins on a 6-2 run to start the second half.
The team never let Pacific back into the game either, like they did so frequently last season. After the break, UCLA added 56 points while allowing 41 to Pacific. That’s almost identical to the first half score.
Of course, the biggest story of the game, besides the debuts of Leaf and Ball, is the fact that the Bruins set a Pauley Pavilion record with 18 three-pointers over the course of the game. Alford had 6 of the 18 treys while Isaac Hamilton, who added 18 points, had 4 three-pointers.
If this game had been played against a Top 25 team or even a Pac-12 opponent, it would be a lot easier to judge what the game might mean for the rest of the season, but it was against a team picked to finish 7th in the West Coast Conference.
But, at the very least, it gives the team something to build on as they head into another game on Sunday versus Cal State Northridge.