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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Second Half Almost Answers Presbyterian’s Prayers

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Someone needs to tell the Bruins that basketball games have two halves.

NCAA Basketball: Long Beach State at UCLA
Jalen Hill rose above to lead UCLA to a 80-65 win
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins played its last cupcake before a real game against Michigan State on Thursday night. As Markybcool pointed out sarcastically:

Michigan State struggled in their Blue Hose trap game yesterday against the Golden Eagles, winning 101-33.

UCLA’s best hope on Thanksgiving Day against Michigan State may be prayer. As in, pray they miss. That brings us to the Bruin defense. The results were good in the first half, but Steve Alford had another surprising take:

I think, 41-19 and we were so dominant in the first half, defensively, but we tried telling them at halftime: some of that was fool’s gold because they missed a lot of open looks off of our turnovers. .

Fool’s gold indeed. It was ugly. Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News writes:

The Blue Hose, who missed 19 of their 22 first-half 3-point shots, went on two separate 11-0 runs to hack at the lead, each including a trio of made 3-pointers. They entered the game shooting 37.4 percent from long range.

The Bruins tried to quell the run with a timeout up six with 7:55 left. Assistant coach Murry Bartow, who was hired to serve as what amounted to a defensive coordinator, addressed the team in the huddle first. The Blue Hose were shooting 64.7 percent from the field at the time.

It looks like the idea to let Bartow coach the defense may not be the solution to Alford’s teams consistently bad defense.

But it was not just bad defense but also offense. Veteran stars Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes were a combined 11 of 29 from the field with nine turnovers. Hands had three assists to six turnovers in a horrid night for a point guard. To Hands’ credit, he was owning up to his mistakes:

I know down the stretch, for me, I was disappointed in the way I turned it over. For me, this game will be really helpful to go back and watch and look at the turnovers I had and see how I can get better from that.

The Daily Bruin’s Sam Connon notes that UCLA was consistently bad on turnovers:

As a team, UCLA turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and 11 in the second.

Hands also admitted the team had problems on defense.

I think we gave up a lot of threes. [Presbyterian] took, I think, 22 threes at half, if I remember. They didn’t go in a lot in the first half. In the second half, they started making them. It’s something we have to go back and correct.

There was a bright spot that deserves respect though. ESPN writes a really dumb headline to an AP story that focuses on the wrong Jalen: Hands helps No. 17 UCLA beat Presbyterian 80-65 . The story does lead with the right Jalen:

Jalen Hill’s career night on the boards helped UCLA avoid a big upset.

Hill had 20 rebounds to lead UCLA to an 80-65 win over Presbyterian College on Monday night.

”Of course I knew, I was the one who was going to get them” Hill said of how many rebounds he had. “It was about activity. I do what I do for my team and stay in my role. That’s what I did.

Hill tied for the lead in assists as well with three. Because of Hill and the other bigs, UCLA was +22 in rebounds, Hill was +25 for the game in the plus/minus stat, and the Blue Hose only had four points in the paint. Hill is a bit of anomaly for this team. He seemingly does not like to shoot and pass first.

But the reality is, as Connon noted, a very alarming truth:

The Bruins won their fourth straight game Monday night, but not without yet another second-half scare.

You can’t do that against Michigan State.


Go Bruins!