Everybody calls the conference tournament the second season. For the UCLA Bruins, they definitely need a second season, because we all know their first season was pretty bad.
How did the second season start for the Bruins?
UCLA and the Stanford Cardinal started out the game struggling scoring the ball. The Bruins just didn’t struggle as much as the Cardinal. Heading into the first media timeout the Stanford was 1 of 8 from the floor and UCLA was up 7-2 early.
While the Cardinal continued to struggle to score, the Bruins could not fully take advantage of their poor shooting, as UCLA was shooting 27% heading into the second media timeout and only up, 11-6.
The Bruins started to find their offense as the half progressed and their defense continued to hold Stanford. UCLA went on a 7-0 run that was paced by a Jaylen Hands three and a steal and dunk that pushed their lead to 31-18 and forced a timeout at the 3:44 mark.
For the remainder of the half, the Bruins continued to play spirited defense while the Cardinal continued to struggle from the field. Stanford ended the half shooting 8 of 35 and UCLA went into the half up, 36-22.
I didn’t mention it in the first half, but the fact that the Bruins did what they did defensively in the first half miraculously came with them playing man defense. It sure is amazing to watch what happens when you allow some long and athletic kids to play man defense.
The second half started with UCLA still playing an aggressive man defense and forcing the Cardinal into tough shot after tough shot. Heading into the first media timeout, the Bruins had outscored Stanford 12-7 to start the half and were up 48-31.
UCLA continued to push and went on a 9-0 run, aided by Jalen Hill as his aggressiveness on the offensive end helped to extend the lead even further to 57-31.
We knew things couldn’t be that easy as the Cardinal went on a mini 6-0 run, capped by a dunk by Marcus Sheffield. This prompted a good Murry Bartow timeout at the 10:04 mark of the second half as the Bruins were still up 57-37.
Stanford continued to fight and started shooting better from the field. A three-point shot by Bryce Wills at the 3:58 made the score 67-55.
Of course, UCLA could not close the game out easily and they missed multiple front ends of one-and-ones, and a Sheffield three-point shot at the 1:05 mark made the score 69-62. I, for one, started having Utah flashbacks.
The Bruins were finally able to hit some free throws and sloppily closed out one of the longest minutes of college basketball I have ever seen, 79-72.
Next up for the Bruins will be a quarterfinal game tomorrow night against the Arizona State Sun Devils at 6:00 pm PT.
UCLA Player Grades
Moses Brown: C+
Brown only played limited minutes in this one, but he was effective early on the defensive end and he kind of helped set the tone for the Bruins.
Kris Wilkes: C
Wilkes struggled from the floor, but, in the move of the game, he took over the coaching for the Bruins during a late timeout and his guidance helped propel them to victory. Wilkes needs to hit at a higher clip than 3 of 14 if UCLA is to beat ASU.
Jaylen Hands: A-
A double-double was nice but seven turnovers was not. However, the growth of Hands was observed late in the game when he could have attacked the rim on a fastbreak, but, instead, he smartly pulled it back out and ran clock at a time of the game when clock needed to be ran. Overall, a pretty solid game by Hands.
David Singleton: B-
He’s a glue guy. His defense and knowledge of the game makes him a guy that just needs to be in the game as much as possible. UCLA was a +14 with him in the game.
Chris Smith: A
Smith has turned into one of the barometers of the team. When he plays well, it seems the Bruins win.
Jalen Hill : A
Hill played a pretty solid game, especially in the second half. He was a difference maker in tonight’s game.
Alex Olesinski: C-
Olesinski was an active body out there tonight, but he didn’t do much else.
Jules Bernard: C-
Bernard was his usual aggressive self tonight, but he didn’t quite pick the right spots to be aggressive.