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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Gotta Go to Mo!

Kris Wilkes had a career high, but the Star was Moses Brown.

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at UCLA
Wilkes had a great start and a career high
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I am not sure Ben Bolch and the LA Times got this one right, but national AP writer Beth Harris did:

Throw it to Mo and watch him work.

That could be UCLA’s strategy in a nutshell this season with 7-foot-1 Moses Brown patrolling the paint.

The freshman from Queens, New York, had a double-double with 19 points and 17 rebounds in his collegiate debut and the 21st-ranked UCLA Bruins routed Fort Wayne 96-71 on Tuesday night to open their 100th season of basketball.

To me, that was the story. I’m not knocking Kris Wilkes. Ben Bolch focused on him and his return after putting his name in the name in the NBA draft in his story entitled “UCLA’s Kris Wilkes has career night in season-opening blowout.”

The small forward ultimately returned to UCLA and showed Tuesday night at Pauley Pavilion how much of a jump he had made since the end of his freshman season.

There might not be any debate about his future at the end of his sophomore season.

Showing off an array of polished moves, Wilkes powered the No. 21 Bruins to a 96-71 victory over Purdue Fort Wayne in the opener of their 100th season.

He scored 19 of his career-high 27 points in the first half and finished with 10 rebounds, stirring the small crowd of 5,931 and justifying his recent selection to the preseason watch lists for both the Naismith and John R. Wooden awards that go to the best player in college basketball.

Yep, Wilkes looked like he made a good decision to return this season and made the case for not coming back, but the story was Mo. As Steve Alford said:

[As] the guys learn to play through Mo (Moses Brown) and around Mo, I think things will really open up for us from the perimeter because we’d like to get more than 25 3s up and more than eight makes. It’s got to flow through Mo. It’s got to start by being an inside-out deal.

Mo is the key. On Offense, according to Alford, and defense. This is not to say he is perfect. Alford pointed out:

When you think of first college games, 19 and 17—and again only 10 shots—Mo’s just special. I told him he got hammered on a foul. I’ve been telling him, ‘You don’t make free throws, the fouls are going to get harder.’ I brought him over and I said, ‘Was that a pretty hard foul?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, that was real hard,’ and I go ‘Why do you think that happened?’ He goes, ‘Because I’m not making my free throws.’ He knows. He’ll get those down because he’s really been working hard on it. I’m going to give him that one game because I do think he’ll make more foul shots and he’ll shoot more.

Alford also took him out after a technical foul. When asked if the technical was called for hanging on the rim, Alford replied:

No, he slapped the backboard. New York habit that we’re trying to break.

But enough focus on the minor flaws. How good was Brown? Let’s let Kris Wilkes close it out:

[N]ow we got ‘Mo’, who dunks everything. It’s pretty good when you get down to the paint and have nowhere else to go, you just throw it up to ‘Mo’. That helps out a lot.

A fun win and nice game. Three more easy games until we get Michigan State and a true test.

Go Bruins!