It was game four last year when the UCLA Bruins took their first loss. Creighton and UCLA got together last year in Kansas City, and the Bluejays shot almost 50% from the field and beat the Bruins 100-89.
This year, the No. 17th ranked Bruins scheduled a nice little trap game before their highly anticipated Thursday night game against Michigan State, as the 3-2 Presbyterian Blue Hose visited Pauley.
The first half started out with both teams on fire, as neither team scored until Moses Brown’s dunk at the 17:27 mark. The Blue Hose did not score until Armel Tete scored at the 13:33 mark, but the Bruins were up 9-2 at that point.
Cody Riley finally made his UCLA debut and he immediately made his presence known as he scored the first points of his career on a nice rebound of his own shot and a power move put-back. This put the Bruins up 13-5 going into the second media timeout at the 11:16 mark.
The next period of time, the Bruins played some of their most aggressive defense of the early season. UCLA’s height, length and athletic ability was on full display and was enabling them to switch on everything. Presbyterian simply could not score and did not score again until the 7:35 mark of the game when Francois Lewis hit a three-pointer, but the Bruins were still up 20-8.
The Bruins finished off the half the way they played the entire half of basketball, with a focus on defense. UCLA held the Blue Hose to 21% shooting and 14% from behind the arc as the Bruins ended the half and went into the locker-room up 41-19.
The half started out sloppy for both teams, but more so for UCLA as the Blue Hose started making some shots and went on a 6-0 run which cut the Bruins’ lead to 52-34 early in the second. Jules Bernard ended Presbyterian’s small run by driving aggressively to the basket and converting a three point play.
The Blue Hose then went on a 11-0 as the Bruins lost total focus on the game, allowed dribble penetration and open shots as Presbyterian closed the gap to 10 points at 55-45. Steve Alford was forced to call a timeout at the 10:42 mark. Out of the timeout, Chris Smith hit a corner three to put UCLA up 58-45, and the Bruins immediately went into a zone defense on the Blue Hose’s next possession.
Presbyterian continued to hit shots and went on another 11-0 run as Lewis and JC Younger hit back-to-back threes to highlight the run as they cut UCLA’s lead to just three points at 61-58, even though the Bruins were once up by 24 points. Prince Ali made a lay-up to stem the tide and increase UCLA’s lead to 63-58 at the 7:23 mark.
The Bruins tried to pull away, but the Blue Hose hung on until UCLA went on a 6-0 run that was highlighted by an acrobatic drive to the rim by Hands and a nice Jalen Hill tip-in as the Bruins increased their lead to 13 points, 73-60, at the 3:53 mark.
UCLA ended the game with the kind of questionable basketball that we have grown accustomed to through the years. With the Bruins up and needing to run clock, Hands took multiple rebounds and pushed pace. One possession luckily resulted in FT’s for Hands because the other resulted in a turnover. Alford called a timeout with 1:56 to go and it was clear that he was not happy with Hands.
UCLA managed to run out the clock and walk away with a strange 80-65 win over the Blue Hose.
Presbyterian was led by Adam Flagler who scored his 29 points on 7 of 14 from behind the arc.
The first real test for the Bruins comes this Thursday, November 22, as UCLA travels to Las Vegas to play the Michigan State Spartans at 7 pm PT.
UCLA Player Grades
Moses Brown: B-
The Blues Hose were not going to let Brown get off and they used double and triple teams to affect his game. Brown is going to have to work on how to deal with double teams because he is going to see a lot of them.
Jaylen Hands: C
Hands did lead the team in scoring, but he had six turnovers to his three assists. The way he ended the game with almost zero understanding of the clock and score just baffles me.
Prince Ali: C-
A pretty typical Ali game, the kind that I have become accustomed to seeing.
Kris Wilkes: C
Wilkes has become the most inconsistent Bruin over the last two games. 5 of 14 from the field is not going to get it done. He needs to be the player that helps stop opposing runs. That’s not to mention that he went 1 of 7 from behind the arc and 1 of 3 at the FT line with a couple of bad looking shots.
Jalen Hill: B+
Nine points and 20 rebounds is a crazy stat line. He was so active tonight. It seemed like he knew there was an extra body on the bench looking for some playing time. He does not get an A because he needs to understand that, when Brown gets doubled and tripled, he needs to be aggressive offensively and he wasn’t to start the game.
Chris Smith: B
It was an efficient game by Smith tonight. At times, he looked to be the best Bruin on the court.
Jules Bernard: C+
It was another solid game for Jules. He is aggressive on both ends of the court. He should see more than 11 minutes. Call it “Absurd, Part I.”
David Singleton: C
It was a pretty invisible game, with not a lot to write about tonight. He should see more than 12 minutes. Call it “Absurd, Part II.”
Cody Riley : C+
It was his first game back and you can see what he is going to be able to bring. His low post game will hopefully help when Brown sees the quick doubles.