So, this is maybe the 3rd time this season I began writing the post-game article early in the second half. This game was over midway through the first half, which is unsurprising to say the least.
But that doesn’t mean the game has been uninteresting. The second half of this blowout was consumed by #TripleDoubleWatch. Both TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball spent the entirety of their second half on the doorstep of recording the first UCLA triple-double since Kyle Anderson in 2013. Lonzo got a double-double with a little over 6 minutes to go in the game, while Leaf got his around the 4:40 mark. Unfortunately for both guys, they’d fall short with assists, thanks to an uncharacteristically bad night from deep for the Bruins (which, for the record, means shooting 32.4% from distance)
But beyond that, yeah. This game was exactly what you expected, with some interesting wrinkles. UCLA very clearly knew they were going to win the game, so we saw a few new defensive ideas, such as the Bruins using a press at one point. The Gauchos entered the game as the worst 3-point shooting team in the NCAA, and the Bruins seemed to recognize this by packing the paint and letting the Gauchos shoot from distance, and the Gauchos responded as you would expect, going a measly 25% from 3.
But yeah, this was definitely a game that was played. UCLA again did what good teams do: beat a bad team convincingly.
WAIT! A LAST-MINUTE UPDATE! BILL WALTON IS LITERALLY INTERVIEWING TJ AND ASKING HIM IF HE’S STARTED SHAVING YET, AND WHAT HE’S STUDYING IN SCHOOL! WALTON IS THE #GOAT OF ANNOUNCERS!
TJ Leaf led the team with team with 25 points and 8 assists, while both Leaf and Lonzo Ball tied for the rebound lead with 10 each. Ami Lakoju led the Gauchos with 11 points.
- Player(s) of the Game: TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball - It feels unfair to single out either of these two dynamic freshman for a singular honor, so they’ll both get it. Leaf arguably had a more productive game, but #TripleDoubleWatch kept me entertained through the second half, so they can both take this top spot.
- Area of Concern: Three-point shooting - Want to know how Leaf and Ball failed to get their triple-doubles? Just look at these stats from deep: Isaac Hamilton (1-9) and Bryce Alford (3-10). Even Aaron Holiday, who leads the team in 3-point FG%, went a pedestrian 1-4 from distance. At this point in the season, I’d chalk this up to an off night rather than anything else, but you’d hope the Bruins could shoot better than 32.4% from distance in the future.
- Offensive Rebounds a concern.....except they aren’t - So, if you didn’t watch this game but just looked at the stat sheet, you might be concerned by the 24 offensive rebounds UCSB gathered. But, let’s set the record straight: offensive rebounds weren’t a concern in this game. Part of those gaudy numbers can be attributed to blocks: UCLA had 10 blocks on the game, and didn’t control a single one afterwards. And, despite all of those offensive rebounds, UCSB only had 17 second-chance points on the game, compared to 15 second-chance points for the Bruins on only 8 offensive rebounds. The offensive rebounding stats for the Gauchos were artificially-inflated, and I wouldn’t put too much thought into it.
UCLA next plays on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas, in a 12 PM tip-off against the Ohio State Buckeyes.