The last home game of the season for the UCLA Bruins played out tonight at Pauley Pavilion. These games always bring tons of emotion. We know that our beloved Thomas Welsh aka “Mr. Double-Double” has played his last game at Pauley, and that thought alone is frightening on so many levels for this program and a story for another article. We also know that Gyorgy Goloman, Alec Wulff, and Ikenna Okwarabizie also played their final games at Pauley. And as recent history has proven for UCLA underclassmen, there are probably a number of other Bruins that might have played their final home game as well.
So with all of the finality and emotion associated with tonight’s game, there was an expectation that UCLA was going to come out strong and also try to avenge that January 20th 94-91 loss at Oregon where Aaron Holiday’s attempted game-tying three point shot hit back rim and bounced out.
With the game tied up early, Oregon caught fire and went on a 9-0 run. UCLA, more specifically Aaron Holiday, answered the 9-0 run with back-to-back three point shots to tie the game 14-14 at the first media timeout.
From that point forward, both teams wouldn’t allow the other to extend the lead at all. Neither team extended their lead beyond six points, and there were also six ties in the first half. UCLA went into the locker room at the half up 40-35.
Both teams were intent on shooting from behind the arc as they combined for a pretty incredible 31 shots from three. The large number of shots were due in part because both teams were converting from the outside. UCLA ended the half shooting 50% and Oregon hit at a 54% clip.
As usual, UCLA had a difficult time stopping Payton Pritchard in the first half as he paced the Oregon Ducks with 13 points.
When Aaron Holiday plays well, nobody in the nation can beat the Bruins, according to Bill Walton, and he led the Bruins with 14 points. Holiday stayed camped-out behind the three-point line, as all six of his shots came from there, with four of them going in.
Welsh did his usual job on the glass, as he pulled down 9 boards in the first 20 minutes.
Holiday started off the second half quickly as he drained another three point shot to give UCLA a 43-35 lead, and its largest lead of the game to that point.
That lead did not last for long, as the Oregon ducks continued to keep the game close. It wasn’t until about the 14:00 minute mark that UCLA tried to put some distance between them and the Ducks. UCLA went on a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 59-48 and prompted a Dana Altman TO.
Then 11:45 happened, and Aaron Holiday was called for a horrible charging call. Oregon then went on an 13-0 to take the lead 61-59. The lead was short lived as Thomas Welsh hit a corner three to give UCLA back the lead 62-61 at the 6:25 mark. Pritchard then hit his fourth three point shot to give the Ducks the lead back.
UCLA then went on a FG drought that allowed the Ducks to extend the lead to 66-62 with 3:32 remaining in the game. The Ducks utilized a trapping and aggressive defense to basically stymie the Bruins during that drought and other times during the second half.
Then baskets by Holiday, Welsh, and a big pull-up three point shot by Jaylen Hands, on an assist by Holiday put the Bruins up 69-67 with 1:57 to go.
Huge shots by Elijah Brown and Mikyle McIntosh tied the game up 71-71 with 49 seconds left. Wilkes then missed a three point shot for UCLA, and Oregon held the ball for the last shot. McIntosh then drove the ball to the basket and missed the lay-up. There was then a timeout by the officials to look at replay to determine if the ball went out on Oregon or UCLA. It was determined that the Ducks would retain the ball. They in-bounded the ball with about five seconds, and Brown took an off-balance three that was missed, and the game was headed to overtime.
UCLA won the tip, and Wilkes missed the first shot in overtime. The Ducks came down, and McIntosh was fouled on the drive, and missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Then UCLA’s Holiday came down and hit a three point shot to give UCLA a 74-71 lead, but Pritchard answered with a two of his own. Holiday, not to be outdone, came down and drove to the basket, was fouled and converted a three point play. UCLA went up 77-73 at that point.
Thomas Welsh then hit a big three point shot to give UCLA a 81-73 lead, but Oregon was not done as Elijah Brown hit a three point shot to pull the Ducks within five with 1:54 left in overtime.
A big turnover by Holiday gave Oregon the ball, and McIntosh hit a shot to pull the Ducks back within three.
The Bruins forced a Duck’s miss on their next possession, and Wilkes was fouled on the rebound. He hit both FT’s to give UCLA a 83-78 lead, and those FT’s sealed the deal for the Bruins as the Bruins escaped with a 86-78 victory.
UCLA Player Grades
Aaron Holiday A
Without Holiday playing well or in the game the Bruins simply cannot win. He put a Pac-12 Player of the Year game on his résumé tonight.
Thomas Welsh A
Mr. Double-Double does it again. His big three point shot helped seal the deal for the Bruins. Nice to see him leave Pauley with a W!
Gyorgy Goloman C-
GG’s foul trouble didn’t allow him to have much of an impact.
Kris Wilkes B+
Nice to see Wilkes hitting his FT’s, and he hit two big ones in OT. All around nice game for Wilkes.
Jaylen Hands C+
Hands struggled to lead the Bruins when Holiday went out at the 11:45 mark, but he did hit a big three for the Bruins.
Alex Olesinski D
Not much of a factor tonight. The refs had it out for Ole.
Prince Ali C
11 points and 8 boards, but it was the ugliest 11 points and 8 boards I think I have seen.
Chris Smith D
Limited minutes tonight.
UCLA has picked a great time to win six out of seven games. They now travel to Salt Lake City, Utah and the Jon M. Huntsman Center to play Utah on Thursday.