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UCLA Ignites the Offense, Beats Utah 83-64

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The Bruins shot lights out on their home court.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After last week, it feels nice to come out of a game and have an easy post game report to write, let me tell you.

The UCLA Bruins returned home tonight, and showcased some real offensive firepower in pulling away from the Utah Utes tonight, winning by the final of 83-64 to maintain pace atop the Pac-12.

Really, the story of this game was the offense. UCLA made their first 5 shots, and 8 of their first 10 to race out to an early lead that they never relinquished. It was honestly a rather complete offensive game from the Bruins, as 4 Bruin players ended up in double figures, and the team as a whole shot 51.8% (29-56) from the field in the game. The Bruins did an excellent job of spacing the floor, as 6 Bruins made shots from distance in this game (and in total went 12-23 from 3), and they were able to take advantage of that for easy finishes in the lane. Surprisingly, the Bruins did all of this damage without their signature fast break offense, as Utah limited the Bruins to only 6 fast break points.

I’m going to talk about Aaron Holiday below, so let me give a shout out here to some of the other Bruins. Kris Wilkes has become a dependable option over the past few weeks, and he continued that here, going 7-11 from the field, including hitting 3 triples for 19 total points. Prince Ali mostly played within himself, going for 13 points on 6-9 shooting, and leading the team in rebounds. Thomas Welsh was his usual solid self on defense, and Jaylen Hands had a solid second half.

Really, if I have any complaints, it was that the team had a rough stretch during the 1st half where the offense and defense really broke down. The Bruins had raced out to a 12 point lead, and kept it around that point until went on a run keyed by poor defensive effort, especially on the boards, that cut the lead down to 3. At that point, Holiday and Wilkes came to the rescue, and UCLA went into the half holding an 8 point lead.

But this was a solid home win, and exactly what the Bruins needed after last week’s disappointing road trip to the Bay Area. Get a win on Sunday, and UCLA can really start to make noise in the conference going forward.

Aaron Holiday led the Bruins with 20 points and 6 assists, while Prince Ali(!) led the team in rebounds with 9. David Collette led the Utes with 15 points.

3 Takeaways

  1. Player of the Game: Aaron Holiday - Aaron missed his first shot with 18:54 to go. In the second half. He was lights out in the first half, and picked and chose his spots in the second en route to a 20 points/1 rebound/6 assist performance. Holiday was masterful, but more importantly played under control and exhibited some strong leadership qualities; at one point, he had a bad turnover during the Utes’ big first-half run, after which he turned to his teammates and vocally said “my bad.” He came back down the court and got an easy assist on a wide open jump shot by Ali. These are the type of games he needs to have going forward.
  2. Point of emphasis: Rebounds - This is more of a first half thing, when the Bruins were outrebounded by the Utes 14-12, and the Utes were able to key their run with a series of offensive rebounds. The fact that Prince Ali ended up with 9 rebounds while UCLA bigs GG Goloman and Alex Olesinski combined for 4 rebounds total (1 and 3 respectively) speaks to some issues that the Bruins need to focus on.
  3. Bill Walton is Good -

That’s all.

UCLA next plays on Saturday with a game against the Colorado Buffaloes. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM PST.

Go Bruins!