The UCLA Bruins beat another bad team with a common theme, inside domination, poor perimeter defense, and all around good play from Jaime Jaquez Jr.
The game started out grethat with the Bruins jumping out 11-0 lead and UCLA cruising. Cody Riley had eight of the team’s first 13 points along with four rebounds. Then, Jalen Hill gave up a five-point play. How do you give up a five play? Well, you get a technical foul on an “and one”. Hill sat for the rest of the half and the first four minutes of the second half.
The game changed then. The Denver Pioneers got hot from behind three, making six of nine. At the under eight timeout, Denver had only scored on the five-point play and six three-pointers. Yet, they only trailed by one, 24-23.
While Riley carried the offense for the first 16 minutes, he sat at the end of the half. With Hill and Riley out, Shareef O’Neal could not post up Denver effectively and it looked like the Bruins might be in trouble on offense. Then, two things happened. First, the defense created some steals that led to dunks. But the other part was more surprising.
The offense was led by Jaime Jaquez Jr. He had two threes and a nice assist. You could see him successfully try to do more when Riley went out.
The second half started with Hill still on the bench and Chris Smith starting at the four. But, otherwise, it was the same on offense, Riley dominated inside and Jaquez made some nice plays. The defense, though, seemed lax with basket trading being the story of the day.
Then, Bernard and Hill came in and the game changed. Hill cleaned up on defense and Bernard cut to the basket for a hoop and hit an open three.
But, Hill and Riley picked up their fourth fouls. UCLA lost their post presence and, while staying comfortably ahead, the Bruins could not pull away. UCLA’s offense will need their inside presence against a better team.
The SPTRs were in full force and in mid-season form as there were a number head scratching calls and non-calls.
Prince Ali played backup point because David Singleton hurt his ankle in practice this week.
Alex Olesinski and Jake Kyman only played in the first half when it mattered. Even with Riley and Hill in foul trouble and a guard short, Alex and Jake barely played.
- Player of the Game. The player of the game goes to Jaime Jaquez. He is the difference maker when he is on the floor. He finished a game leading +25 in the plus/minus stat. He scored 16 points, two steals, a game leading four assists, and 6 rebounds. The Bruins are a better team in every way when he is on the floor.
- Honorable Mention. With Hill taken out of the game, Cody Riley carried the offense for much of the game and had his best rebounding game. He finished with 11 rebounds and 21 points in just 23 minutes.
- The three point defense remains a major concern. A bad Denver team was able to stay in the game for most of the first half by hitting threes. They went 6 for 10 for the half. A good team is going to kill UCLA from the three-point line. The second half was better with Denver going only 1 for 9 from three, but this remains a huge concern.
Go Bruins! Beat the Irish!