VIDEO: Isaac Hamilton talks about career-best performance vs. USC

UCLA coasted to a 96-70 win over USC in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals, as sophomore Isaac Hamilton scored a career-high 36 points — the most for any Bruin in a decade. Hamilton did this just four days after the death of his grandmother, Lucine.

“I said a little prayer,” he said. “I knew she was watching me above. I just came out and competed. I’m hoping she’s happy with the performance I had today.”

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Isaac Hamilton scores career-high 36 as UCLA blows out USC

LAS VEGAS >> That UCLA beat USC in the Pac-12 Tournament wasn’t much of a surprise.

That Isaac Hamilton was the Bruins’ best offensive player? Well, this was new.

The sophomore guard scored a career-high 36 points in a 96-70 decision over the Trojans on Thursday, one that punched a ticket to the Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against No. 1-seed Arizona.

It was an astounding performance, particularly for a player who entered the MGM Grand Garden arena averaging 10.1 points per game. Hamilton had only topped 20 points once in his career. In four of his last eight games, he hadn’t even scored in double digits. Continue reading

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UCLA freshman Kevon Looney sustains facial injury against USC

UCLA’s Kevon Looney suffered a facial injury against USC in the first half, and his return to the game is questionable.

The freshman forward entered the game averaging 12.3 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Bruins, and appeared to have a slight cut under his left eye. He had five points, four rebounds and two steals in 10 minutes before sitting out.

UCLA has a 47-29 halftime lead over the Trojans, keyed largely by a strong performance by Isaac Hamilton. The sophomore guard scored 18 points in the first period, just three shy of his career high.

UPDATE: Looney was been ruled out for the second half against USC, and eventually left the arena for a CT scan.

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Looking back at Bryce Alford’s last shot in UCLA’s loss at Cal

If UCLA’s 64-62 loss at Cal last Saturday ends up being the game that costs the Bruins an NCAA Tournament berth, there might be one play that’s reviewed more than any other: Bryce Alford’s missed 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The offense stalled and missed five of its last six shots to end the game — including a poorly conceived jumper by Norman Powell that could’ve tied it — so it’s not fair to put the blame on one player. But Alford still had a chance to win the game, and arguably could have generated a better shot had he passed to a wide-open Isaac Hamilton on the other side of the court.

Looking at the replay, Alford had a chance to find Hamilton with about three seconds left on the game clock — when he was crossing the “Pete Newell” between his bench and the announcer’s table. While it would have been a tough pass, that Alford didn’t have his head on a swivel sank any chance of it happening. Hamilton also wasn’t wide open for another second or so, but Alford could have potentially identified that the defense was shifting away from that area — then lobbed it ahead.

“I didn’t see Isaac,” Alford said. “Obviously, watching tape, he was running down the court. … If I’d seen him, I definitely would have thrown it to him.” Continue reading

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