Sorry about this post-game being a bit late - I originally didn’t plan on writing it, and instead went to a bar with some Arizona buddies to watch our bad basketball teams and laugh at some bad basketball. But unlike my Wildcat buddies, I at least ended up enjoying my drinks, as the UCLA Bruins raced out to an early lead and never looked back, eventually cruising to a 90-69 victory over their biggest basketball rivals.
Let’s be fair here - the Arizona Wildcats were without their best player in Chase Jeter, and it showed, especially on the glass, where UCLA held a gargantuan 47-30 rebounding advantage. In addition, this was the second-straight game for the Wildcats where their shooting went cold, having shot 27.8% from the field on Thursday in a loss to Southern Cal. Scott Moran from Arizona Desert Swarm mentioned this as a thing that occasionally happened during our conversation with him, but the Wildcats ended up shooting 33.3% from the field in this game, including a poor 8-26 (30.8%) from distance.
I’ll also be fair here and say that UCLA absolutely played like the better team in this game, shooting an incredibly-good 57.9% from the field. The Bruins got it done from distance (9-23, 39.1% 3FG%) and on the inside, with 42 of UCLA’s points coming in the paint. Outside of Moses Brown, the Bruins were even fine at the FT line, with the non-Brown Bruins going 12-13 from the charity stripe.
With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, both Bruin greats and two of the best big men in history, watching, it only seemed appropriate that Moses Brown would have a solid game. Brown pulled down a ridiculous 15 rebounds to go along with 11 points and 2 blocks. That block number feels low, especially considering how many Arizona shots he adjusted with his presence. Kris Wilkes had his best game of the season by far, finishing with a career-high 34 points on 12-16 shooting, including 5-7 from deep.
If I have some nitpicks, it would be to say that I have no idea why the starters played so many minutes in a blowout. Arizona was never able to get the lead lower than 17 points through the final 16 minutes of play, so you’d have liked to see guys like David Singleton (15 min), Jules Bernard (13 min), and Cody Riley (14 min) get more playing time instead of having 3 starters play over 30 minutes. Interestingly enough, Chris Smith barely saw the court in this game, only logging 2 minutes of game time, and managing 2 turnovers in that time frame. And the Bruins were able to post a huge victory despite turning the ball over 18 times to Arizona’s 9.
All that said, it was a solid victory in a season that stopped mattering awhile ago. On to next week, I guess.
Kris Wilkes led the Bruins with 34 points. Moses Brown led the team with 15 rebounds, and Jaylen Hands led the team with 11 assists. Brandon Williams led the Wildcats with 19 points.
- Player of the Game: Kris Wilkes - Hard to argue with a final slash line of 34/4/3, especially when those 34 points came on 12-16 shooting. Wilkes was scoring from different parts of the floor, which is a good sign, especially for any NBA team willing to take a chance on him. If he can play that consistently going forward (and also limit the mistakes, especially with the dribble), then he might have a good chance at salvaging his draft stock in time for June.
- Area of concern: Turnovers - 18 turnovers isn’t good no matter how you slice it, but I’d say it’s worse considering 8 of those came in the second half, when the game really wasn’t in doubt. That should have been the time to clean up mistakes, but UCLA played essentially the same game. This time it worked out fine, but ideally you’d like to see the Bruins clean things up in the second half.
- Bill Walton: Still the GOAT - I mean, come on.
I get that some people don’t like him, but to those people I will just say that we can never be friends. Also I totally believe him when he says he was in Ghostbusters.
UCLA heads on the road next week, starting with a Wednesday game at the Washington State Cougars. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM Pacific.