Look, I got bored during this game. It was a boring game. I didn’t even tweet nearly the same amount I do during the games, because it was so boring.
But I guess I should point out a big thing: this was UCLA’s first win in Pullman since the 2011-2012 season. Norman Powell was a freshman on that team. Josh Smith was the leading scorer for the Bruins in that game. Life is weird.
Still, it was nice to finally get back in the win column, and especially to look good on the road. I don’t want to get crazy by saying this was a much-improved performance - the defense still didn’t look great, especially letting the Cougars shoot 47.6% from distance as both the zone and man defense continually allowed open looks. Meanwhile, the offense struggled from deep, going 3-16 in the game, with some great performances from Lonzo Ball (1-5), Bryce Alford (1-4), and Isaac Hamilton (0-4).
Luckily, Washington State isn’t the kind of team that can take advantage of an average performance from the Bruins, and despite those issues, the game never truly felt close, with UCLA finally pulling away on the scoreboard late.
TJ Leaf led all scorers 32 points, and also led the Bruins in rebounds with 14. Lonzo Ball led the Bruins in assists with 7. Ike Iroegbu led the Cougars with 20 points.
- Player of the Game: TJ Leaf - This was one of Leafs better games of the season, which is saying something, but it was nice to see him bounce back after an average few games. While Lonzo Ball is the glue that binds this team together, TJ truly is the engine that takes them to another level, and when he plays well, this team is hard to beat, specifically because he can burn teams from inside and out.
- Lonzo Ball breaks a record - This game wasn’t a complete waste of everyone’s time, at least. Lonzo Ball now owns both the UCLA and Pac 12 record for assists by a freshman with 176, and he still has 8 games to go. The dude is straight-up ridiculous, and a joy to watch.
- Defense still “not good” - Washington State shot 50.8% from the field in this game. That’s not good! This game featured a fun running joke where the announce crew would talk about UCLA needing to work better on the defensive end, and the Bruin defense would proceed to allow an easy layup. Interestingly enough, UCLA went to a zone rather early, and gave up enough open looks from distance that they went back to man. Fun times!
UCLA next plays on Saturday, in a road game against Washington starting at 7:30.