UCLA hasn’t solved all its defensive woes, but Wednesday night was a step in the right direction.
The Bruins broke through at Oregon State, earning an 82-73 victory that marked their first conference road win of the season. They did so by holding the Beavers to under 40 percent shooting for much of the game, and trailing for just 74 seconds at Gill Coliseum.
The win moved Steve Alford to 8-13 in Pac-12 road games. The third-year coach is still looking for his first conference sweep away from Pauley Pavilion — something that could happen as soon as Saturday at Oregon.
“I think it’s been all over everywhere that we’re giving up 86 points per game in Pac-12 play,” Alford said. “They know that. It’s starting to affect them a little bit and hurt them. And that’s good.”
Junior Isaac Hamilton led UCLA (12-7, 3-3) with 25 points in one of his most efficient outings of the season. The 6-foot-4 guard made 10 of his 14 shots from the floor, including half of his six attempts from beyond the arc. After an inconsistent sophomore season, the former five-star recruit has blossomed into the Bruins’ most consistent offensive threat, scoring in double figures in 15 straight games. Against Pac-12 opponents, he is averaging 19.5 points on 48.9 percent shooting. Continue reading →
UCLA Bruins (14-10, 6-5) vs. Oregon State (16-7, 7-4)
Tipoff: Wednesday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Spero Dedes, Kevin O’Neill)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
Scouting report: If defense is mostly about effort, then first-year head coach Wayne Tinkle has Oregon State working harder than it has in at least a decade.
According to kenpom.com, the Beavers have ranked top-100 nationally in defensive efficiency since 2003, and sank all the way to 215th during former coach Craig Robinson’s final season. Just one year later, OSU is now ranked eighth — right behind Pac-12 leaders Utah and Arizona.
The team has become greater than the sum of its parts. Gutted by the loss of the team’s top-five scorers in 2013-14, Tinkle even resorted to holding an open tryout back in October. Now, he’s turned that collection of players into a roster that is fifth-best in the country in opposing 3-point percentage, top-20 in block and turnover percentage.
But like many teams in the conference, Oregon State hasn’t looked the same away from home. Continue reading →
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