UCLA 72, Colorado 59: Steve Alford talks about Bruins’ ‘next step’

UCLA beat Colorado easily on Saturday night, finishing off a 72-59 decision that didn’t look as close as the final score. The Bruins have only lost one game at home this season, but have only won once outside of Los Angeles in nine tries.

“That’s the next step that this team’s got to do,” Alford said.

The Bruins visit Stanford on Thursday and Cal on Saturday, both of whom they were able to beat at Pauley Pavilion this month.

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At a glance: UCLA vs. Colorado

UCLA Bruins (12-9, 4-4) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (11-9, 4-4)
Tipoff: Saturday, Jan. 31, 7:35 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Roxy Bernstein, Bill Walton)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

Scouting report: Colorado is one of several teams jostling around the middle of the Pac-12, and are thus unsurprisingly pedestrian in most statistical categories — although it is the best in the conference at keeping opponents off the free throw line. Conversely, it is third-to-last in forcing turnovers.

Big man Josh Scott has been sidelined for a month with a back injury, and did not travel to Los Angeles. When healthy, he is Colorado’s most efficient scorer. Forward Wesley Gordon has stepped in to fill the rebounding void, and is averaging 11.5 boards in his last four games.

The Buffaloes haven’t beaten a team ranked top-100 in RPI except UCLA.

The Bruins just notched their biggest win of the season in Thursday night’s 69-59 upset of No. 11 Utah. One major victory isn’t enough to change the course of the season, but UCLA looks like a team that can conceivably clean out the rest of its home schedule — especially given that they don’t host Arizona this year.

Norman Powell entered his senior season as the presumptive leader of Steve Alford’s team, but hasn’t become the dominant go-to option the team had hoped for. Although he’s become a better 3-point shooter overall, he’s only hit one of his last 16 attempts from beyond the arc (over five games). Continue reading

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Jim Mora defends UCLA football against ‘gloom and doom’

UCLA slipped past Colorado on Saturday with a 40-37 road win in double overtime, but it was a victory that saw the Bruins make mistake after mistake against a lesser opponent.

A day later, Jim Mora wanted to remind everyone that this program looked far worse not too long ago.

“Let’s all remember that the last game UCLA played before this whole thing started was a 50-0 ass-kicking,” he said Sunday.

The third-year head coach was referring, of course, to the Bruins’ 50-0 loss to USC in 2011 — one that came just days after former head coach Rick Neuheisel said UCLA had “closed the gap” with their crosstown rivals.

Technically, the Bruins played two more games before Mora took over: a 49-31 loss to then-No. 8 Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, and a 20-14 loss to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

But that 50-0 shellacking against the Trojans was the low point that prompted Neuheisel’s firing just days later. Two weeks after that, UCLA hired Mora — who, despite his team’s recent struggles, orchestrated a quick turnaround that few expected.

“We’re only two and a half years into our tenure here, and we’ve won 75 percent of our regular season games with a completely overhauled roster,” Mora said. “I don’t know if you guys know that, but we’re 24-8 in regular season games here since we’ve been here, with a completely overhauled roster.” Continue reading

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UCLA’s win at Colorado just the latest in season of ugly games

Brett Hundley runs past Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie for an 8-yard, game-winning touchdown in double overtime. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

» UCLA snuck out of Boulder with a 40-37 win, but needing double overtime to survive Colorado is one more step down the hole of an underwhelming season.
» The Bruins still can’t shake the penalty bug, and are now losing an average of 80 yards per game to flags under Jim Mora.

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UCLA 40, Colorado 37: Head coach Jim Mora

UCLA barely escaped Colorado on Saturday, needing a Brett Hundley keeper in double overtime to finish out the 40-37 win. It was just the latest closer-than-expected performance in a season that has seen the Bruins struggle to close out against lesser teams.

Asked what needs to change, head coach Jim Mora said: “You mean winning? Well, we’re 6-2. So I hope nothing changes. I hope we keep winning. ‘Cause winning is the objective in competitive sports and we won. We will go back and evaluate everything, but boy — I hope nothing changes in terms of the result because I like winning.”

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