Finally, the No. 21st ranked UCLA Bruins played an opponent that was a little more familiar to UCLA fans than our exhibition opponent and the Mastodons earlier in the week. Tonight, UCLA welcomed the Long Beach State 49ers as the 49ers opened their 2018-2019 season at Pauley Pavilion.
Coming into tonight’s game, UCLA led the all-time series against the 49ers 15-1. The most recent UCLA victory occurred November 20, 2016, when the Bruins bashed the 49ers 114-77.
Early on, UCLA was having a hard time defending behind the arc, and hitting their own shots from behind the arc. LBSU’s Deishuan Booker was 3/3 from the 3-point line and went into the first media timeout with 14 points. As seems to be a common theme for the Bruins, there was no sense of offense and the Bruins were 1/6 from behind the arc and were down 20-15 at the first media timeout. For some reason, the Bruins forgot they had Moses Brown as an offensive threat during this time as well, as he barely touched the ball.
UCLA continued to struggle offensively out of the media timeout. The offense consisted of wild outside shots with absolutely no offensive continuity at all. Even more alarming was UCLA was getting out rebounded at the 6:33 mark 18-10, and losing 30-23.
UCLA then went on a little run that coincided with Moses Brown picking up his first FG at the 5:18 mark, yes the 5:18 mark of the first half. UCLA’s Jaylen Hands hit a three-pointer, and an intentional 49er foul on Moses Brown gave UCLA a chance for a 8-point trip down the court. Brown hit 1/2 FT’s and UCLA missed an open jumper, so the Bruins had to settle for a four-point trip, and a 6-0 UCLA run.
UCLA finished off a pretty ragged half with a 10-0 run, partially as a result of the term of the game “hook and hold”. LBSU’s Booker shot a three-pointer with six seconds left in the half and missed. Breyon Jackson then hooked and held UCLA’s Moses Brown. The technical foul was called, Brown hit both FT’s. UCLA then inbounded the ball and Jaylen Hands sprinted full court and hit a pull up three that put the Bruins up at the half, 45-41.
UCLA had nine steals in the half and they parleyed the 10 LBSU turnovers into 12 points. However, UCLA let Beach convert 48% of their FG attempts and the more concerning part of the half was the fact that UCLA got outrebounded 22-14. The Bruins also did not have an answer to Deishaun Booker during the first half as he poured in 19 points, and despite the lead, UCLA did not look good in that half.
UCLA extended their 10-0 run to a 14-0 run to start the half as Jalen Hill’s put-back and Moses Brown’s two FT’s kicked off the UCLA scoring. UCLA’s defensive intensity increased some to start off the half as well. At the first media timeout, LBSU was shooting 20%, and were only scoring points at the FT line on a couple of questionable calls. UCLA held an early 54-48 lead.
The Beach then went on a run of their own as UCLA continued to struggle stopping Booker, as Booker’s layup at the 14:42 mark tied up the game at 54-54.
UCLA, then, went into their zone for a while and still struggled to gain any separation from LBSU for a much of the 2nd half. but the Bruins depth eventually wore down the 49ers. A lineup of Moses Brown, Jules Bernard, David Singleton, Jalen Hill and Chris Smith were on the floor as the Bruins played their best basketball of the night and went on a 11-0 run to put the Bruins up 81-64 at the 5:08 mark.
LBSU then went on their own 12-0 run that closely coincided with Alford bringing in Hands, Wilkes and Ali, and LBSU going into an aggressive full-court press that was turning UCLA over. LBSU was down 81-76 at the 2:50 mark. UCLA finally broke the press that seemed to take them about 10 minutes to figure out and the dunk by Brown broke the 12-0 run and put the Bruins up 83-76.
The “hook and hold” struck again against the Beach, as KJ Byers hooked Chris Smith, and Smith hit both of the technical foul shots to put the Bruins up 85-78 with 1:52 remaining.
UCLA struggled to finish the game because, as was mentioned above, an Alford-coached team cannot consistently break a full-court press, but the Bruins did enough to pull out a 91-80 victory.
The Bruins were paced by Moses Brown’s double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Kris Wilkes also added 17 points.
LBSU was led by Deishaun Booker’s 31 points.
UCLA Player Grades
Moses Brown: A-
The fact that Brown only had six FG attempts and hit five of them is a problem this coaching staff better address with the guards. Brown runs the court, battles for position, and should get more touches than he got in this game. 17 and 10 for Brown.
Jaylen Hands: C+
Although Hands scored 14 and his shot at the end of the half was big, he’s a point guard who’s fingerprint was not overly evident on this game.
Kris Wilkes: B-
Not an efficient game for Wilkes. 1 for 7 from behind the arc, but he still finished with 17 on 19 shots
Prince Ali: C-
Ali should not be shooting 11 shots on this team and objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. His playing time is going to start to diminish.
Jalen Hill: C
Jalen Hill needs to have more than six rebounds in a game like this. LBSU tied the Bruins in rebounds and that should not happen.
Jules Bernard: C+
I love his off-the-dribble game and his strength and ability to finish at the basket, except when he takes off too early and gets hung by the rim on a dunk attempt. All jokes aside, he’s fun to watch.
Chris Smith: B+
Smith was a big part of the lineup that pulled away from the Beach. He was active, but came back to earth from behind the arc. 4-4 from the FT line was nice as well.
David Singleton: B
Singleton was another Bruin that was in the game during the second half that helped the Bruins pull away. 3/4 from behind the arc and scored 7 of his 10 points in the second half.
The Bruins will play again next Friday, November 16th at Pauley Pavilion against the St. Francis Red Flash. Tip-off is set for 8:00 pm PT.