UCLA coach Steve Alford praised his three freshmen after the Bruins blew out Sydney University in their exhibition game Tuesday. (David Crane/Staff)
Freshmen starred for the UCLA men’s basketball team in its 123-76 exhibition blowout victory over Sydney University on Tuesday.
UCLA’s trio of freshmen had 46 combined points with TJ Leaf leading the way with a team-high 21. Ike Anigbogu had 16 and Lonzo Ball had nine. Leaf added nine rebounds and Anigbogu had eight boards. Ball had four assists, two steals and two blocks.
“They were outstanding, all three of them – Ike, Lonzo and TJ,” head coach Steve Alfordtold UCLABruins.com. “We know what they can do. They came here in their first exhibition game and all three played very well.”
UCLA seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford had 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Isaac Hamilton led the Bruins — who finished 10th in the league — with a second-team selection, while fellow junior guard Bryce Alford earned an honorable mention. Hamilton is the Pac-12’s third-leading scorer at 17.1 points per game and has hit double figures in 27 straight outings. The last UCLA player to hold a longer streak is former league MVP Kevin Love, who scored at least 10 points in all 39 games as a freshman in 2007-08.
The Bruins had produced five all-conference first-team picks in the last three years: Norman Powell, Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Larry Drew II and Shabazz Muhammad. Lazeric Jones led UCLA with a second-team spot in 2011-12, the first season after Colorado and Utah joined what became the Pac-12.
The league has included 10 players in its first team since 1979-80, only departing from the tradition when it named three five-member teams in 2007-08.
Utah center Jakob Poeltl is the Pac-12 Player of the Year, while Oregon’s Dana Altman was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the third time in four years. He is the first to be named the conference’s top coach in consecutive seasons since Stanford’s Mike Montgomery 12 years ago. Oregon State guard Gary Payton II became the first-ever back-to-back Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Colorado’s George King is the conference’s most improved player, while Utah’s Brandon Taylor was honored as the top scholar-athlete.
See the rest of the All-Pac-12 teams below. All awards are voted on by coaches, who cannot select themselves or their own players. Continue reading →
With just nine regular-season games left, UCLA is still hovering below .500 in conference play. Needing a few more emphatic wins to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, the Bruins take their next step on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at USC.
Head coach Steve Alford talked on Tuesday about the matchup. A few notes:
» UCLA shook up its starting lineup this past Saturday, playing forward Jonah Bolden ahead of senior Tony Parker in an 83-50 win over Washington State. Bolden seems likely to keep that spot, with Parker continuing to man the backup center position instead of playing next to sophomore Thomas Welsh in a “big-big” frontcourt.
“We played well last game doing that,” Alford said. “I don’t think it’s always going to be etched in stone as to who that is, but I don’t see any changes.”
» Alford lost to USC for the first time on Jan. 13, with his Bruins devolving on defense. Looking back on that 14-point loss, the third-year coach pointed out that the Trojans scored 13 points off of “50-50 balls,” as well as 16 second-chance points.
“When you fuel their transition game by mistakes that you make, that makes it really, really difficult,” Alford said.
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 →