UCLA earns first Pac-12 road win in 82-73 decision at Oregon State

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

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UCLA forward Gyorgy Goloman ready for full workload after injury

UCLA’s Gyorgy Goloman has barely played as a sophomore, having lost the first half of the season to a leg injury. According to Steve Alford, the 6-foot-11 forward will be shouldering a much heavier workload moving forward — starting with tonight’s 8 p.m. tipoff at Oregon State.

“No limits now,” said the Bruins’ third-year coach.

Goloman had been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right leg back in October, and his recovery took longer than the team had initially expected. He was only cleared for six to eight minutes in his season debut against USC last week, and ended up seeing the floor for two minutes in what turned out to be an 89-75 loss at Pauley Pavilion.

ANALYSIS: Why have the Bruins struggled so much on defense?

While he may not contribute big numbers — having averaged just 1.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.8 minutes off the bench last year — his presence gives the Bruins more lineup flexibility, with the length to position himself at the top of the team’s zone defense.

“He’s got the basketball IQ,” Alford said of Goloman. “He understands positioning. I’m hoping that helps, because we’re struggling with the understanding of positioning, being in the right position, and doing it consistently enough.

“We’ll get a stop or two, and then we’ll have three times where they score. … Those things just can’t happen. You’ve got to have the demeanor of a team where, if someone scores two times in a row on you, stop it.”

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UCLA’s Keith Erickson to be inducted into Pac-12 Hall of Honor

Keith Erickson (right) stands next to Jim Cleamons as part of a 40th anniversary ceremony for the 1972 Lakers championship team. Erickson also helped UCLA to national titles in 1964 and 1965, and will be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor this March. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Archives)

Keith Erickson (right) stands next to Jim Cleamons as part of a 40th anniversary ceremony for the 1972 Lakers championship team. Erickson also helped UCLA to national titles in 1964 and 1965, and will be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor this March. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Archives)

Former UCLA star Keith Erickson will be among the 12 players inducted into this year’s Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor.

The 71-year-old was part of the Bruins’ first two NCAA championship teams in 1964 and 1965, and also earned a spot on U.S. men’s volleyball team that finished ninth at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Drafted in the third round of the 1965 NBA draft, the El Segundo native embarked on a 12-year career that included a 1972 title run with the Lakers.

He retired in 1977 with 7,251 points, 3,449 rebounds, and 1,991 assists for four different teams.

Erickson will be inducted to the Hall of Honor on March 12, before the Pac-12 Tournament championship game at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

He will be joined in Las Vegas by Arizona’s Salim Stoudamire, Arizona State’s Art Becker, Cal’s Brian Hendrick, Colorado’s Scott Wedman, Oregon’s Luke Ridnour, Oregon State’s Jim Anderson, Stanford’s Kim Belton, USC’s Sam Clancy, Utah’s Vern Gardner, Washington’s Isaiah Thomas, and Washington State’s Keith Morrison.

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Q&A — 1/15/16 Answers

Q: Why is our basketball team so wildly inconsistent this year?

A: The Bruins aren’t very good on defense, which I’d attribute to both the abilities of individual players as well as lackluster coaching. That puts them in a bad spot whenever they fall into scoring droughts; we saw that against USC, when every second-half comeback attempt died because the Trojans responded with quick, easy points. UCLA’s offense has also become very dependent on Bryce Alford’s shooting. When he’s not hitting baskets, everything else bogs down. When he is, however, it’s a difficult team to stop.

Q: Looking ahead to the 2016 season the roster should be filled with talent. What do you think the starting five will look like after T.J. Leaf and Lonzo Ball make it on to campus? If Ball ends up starting, which current guard do you see Coach Alford moving to the bench?

A: Since no one on the team looks NBA-ready, let’s assume that none of them makes a bad decision to turn pro early. In that case, I’d expect the starting lineup to look something like:

C — Thomas Welsh, Jr.
F — T.J. Leaf, Fr.
G — Isaac Hamilton, Sr.
G — Bryce Alford, Sr.
G — Lonzo Ball, Fr.

Since there’s no way Alford will send his son to the bench — and since Hamilton will also be a senior — Aaron Holiday in a sixth man role probably makes the most sense. But I could also see a scenario where Hamilton becomes the leading scorer of the second unit. Continue reading

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