It’s always fun to destroy Arizona in basketball. It’s even better to do it on national TV with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton in the house. Speaking of Kareem, he tweeted this:
@UCLA welcoming freshman Moses Brown to my Alma Mater pic.twitter.com/p7J60htyhs— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 27, 2019
KAJ may have shrunk a bit but it is interesting to see Brown clearly appear taller. Ben Bolch at the LA Times focuses his entire story on Brown. Here are a few quotes:
It was a photo op from a dream. Moses Brown stood next to the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a UCLA legend he hopes to emulate in ways other than just being a 7-footer from New York.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar focused the moment entirely on the young Bruin, pointing at Brown in his white warmup gear and welcoming him to his alma mater in a photo he tweeted out before the game.
Bolch also focused on the positive and maybe even exaggerated a bit on the free throws since one of Brown’s makes was a bank.
The unusually large crowd at Pauley Pavilion cheered another Bruins’ big man throughout the game, Brown breaking out of a two-week slump to help UCLA enjoy a 90-69 stomping of Arizona. . . .
Brown put in a yeoman’s effort against the Wildcats, fighting for rebounds, elevating for putbacks and even making a handful of free throws. He logged a double-double by early in the second half and finished with 15 rebounds, 11 points and two blocks as the Bruins emphatically ended a three-game losing streak.
It is always nice to win over Arizona but, as bad as UCLA is this year, Arizona is looking much worse right now. Really to me, it looked almost like an exhibition game where the other team is too short and lacks the talent to play UCLA. As Sam Connon over at the Daily Bruin noted, Brown had a HUGE 7 inch height advantage.
Brown secured his [double double] with over 16 minutes left in the game, and he finished the night with 11 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. The 15 boards were Brown’s most since the season opener, and Saturday was the second time he recorded multiple blocks, multiple steals and a double-double in one game.
Arizona center/forward Chase Jeter missed Saturday’s game with a back injury, leading Wildcat coach Sean Miller to match 6-foot-7-inch forward Ira Lee up with the 7-foot-2-inch Brown, who said he enjoyed playing with a height advantage down low.
“Every time they threw it to me, I think something good happened,” Brown said. “I got a lot of offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds, but that was just a credit to me just being active on both ends.”
Brown led both teams in rebounds, and the Bruins outrebounded the Wildcats 47-30.
Think about this. UCLA has eight players taller than the Wildcats’ center last night. Even if you take out Brown’s 15 rebounds, UCLA still out-rebounded Arizona.
But it was more than just a height advantage. Sean Miller’s weakness as a coach has always been on offense. This team is arguably his worst. As he stated:
We can’t make a shot. At the end of the day, someone really has to throw that ball in.
Bruin Report Online has a story, which is unfortunately behind their paywall, but the headline alone sums up Arizona: UCLA Plays Better, Beats Worst Arizona Team in Forever.
One of those playing better and breaking out of his slump was Kris Wilkes. The other UCLA beat writer, Thuc Nhi Nguyen, focuses her recap on Wilkes:
Kris Wilkes raised his left hand to the crowd as they showered him with applause one last time Saturday night. It was an understated gesture that capped off the sophomore’s return to the spotlight.
Wilkes broke free from a recent skid, scoring a career-high 34 points in UCLA’s 90-69 rout over Arizona on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion that ended UCLA’s three-game losing streak. The 6-foot-8 guard shot a blazing 75 percent from the field (12-of-16) after he had made just 38 percent of his shots in the past three games. He scored 26 points in the second half alone, which nearly matched his previous career high of 27. . . .
Wilkes scored the first six points for UCLA in the second half as the lead ballooned to 26 halfway through the second half.
Bartow said he could tell early on that Wilkes was going to have a big game. There was just a look in his eye. The former McDonald’s All-American made his first three shots and had eight points at halftime.
Arizona is a bad team this year, actually awful. It’s just there are a number of worse teams in this conference. UCLA has the most talent in the conference, but had been struggling on offense before last night. Some of those struggles may be explained in a serious of quotes of interim coach Bartow on the two stars last night. With respect to Kris Wilkes, he said:
He just got it rolling early. We didn’t really call anything for him early.
Then, he had this to say about Moses Brown:
We’ve tried to simplify the message with Moses. Just run, rebound, and have fun. We don’t really run much for him.
Now, in fairness, Bartow did call things for Wilkes later when they saw he was hot. But it’s interesting that Brown does not have plays for him and Wilkes, UCLA’s leading scorer, did not have plays for him until he got hot. I am not saying that each trip needs down the court needs to have a set play, but these are couple of interesting quotes.