First of all, if you managed to sit through the entirety of this game with myself and DCBruins, I commend you. Because this thing was pretty unwatchable.
Let’s start with the referee issue, because the Pac-12 officials were in midseason form already. This game featured 53 personal fouls (30 for CSUN, 23 for UCLA) and neither team was really allowed to gain any type of flow. I understand the rule changes are causing the referees to be a bit tighter with the whistle, but this officiating crew was on a whole new level. And, to make sure no one thinks I am being biased, this was bad officiating for both teams. In the second half, UCLA entered the bonus with 13:53 remaining in the half, and went into the double bonus with under 12 minutes remaining. And when that happens and you’re allowed to go 31-39 from the free throw line, you’re going to have a good night.
In general, the Bruins were rather sloppy. UCLA had 20 turnovers in this game, after only having 12 against Pacific. The field goal percentage went down as well, as one would expect, but only to 49.3% on 33-67 shots, including 5-16 from 3 point range, which is a far cry from the record 18 threes made against Pacific. And the defense remains, in the kindest terms, a “work in progress”, as the Matadors were able to shoot 50% on the night.
But hey, a win is a win.
Isaac Hamilton led all Bruins with 22 points, while Bryce Alford added 20. Lonzo Ball led the Bruins in minutes (38) and assists (6). Thomas Welsh had an ok game, not really hitting his shot but being a monster on the boards, leading the Bruins in rebounds en route to a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds). Kendall Smith led the Matadors with 21 points.
- Player of the Game: Gyorgy Goloman - Boy did he have a bounce-back game here, and then some. Against Pacific, Goloman fouled out after only 6 minutes of play, and with true freshman Ike Anigbogu out with injury, Goloman needed to be counted on to provide meaningful minutes for an short-handed unit. So how did Goloman respond? 12 points on 5-7 shooting, to go with 8 rebounds in 15 minutes. It was a fantastic performance from Goloman, and the Bruin faithful in attendance let him know their appreciation, as chants of “GG Goloman” filled Pauley when Goloman checked out for the final time.
- Lonzo Ball is the emotional leader - The turn of this game came at the start of the second half, which is coincidentally when Lonzo Ball took over. He started the half with a long three, then followed it up with a dunk to give the Bruins a 3 point lead. Ball is a special player, but what makes him truly special is that ability to find a new gear to push their team to victory. UCLA and CSUN traded leads for a bit, but after that opening from Ball, the victory started to feel like a certainty.
- Defense needs work - Even if you’re winning by comfortable margins, allowing 80+ points in your first two games isn’t a great sign. The Bruins have gotten timely stops on defense, and there are moments where the athleticism of the team takes over to allow for good defensive series, but there’s just a lack of consistency. UCLA went into zone for a bit in this game as well, which last year was a sign that the coaching staff was trying to compensate for some poor defending. Luckily UCLA has a few more games to work out the kinks before facing tougher competition, but the early returns are troubling.
The Bruins next play this Thursday, in a home game against the University of San Diego.