Saturday, 18 November 2017 15:08

Bruins Take Care Of Business In Pauley

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Hands J SCSUAfter a slow start, UCLA (3-0) ranked 23rd in the nations were able to shake loose from a scrappy South Carolina State (0-4) team and beat the SCSU going away 96-68.

“I thought in the first half we were really sluggish defensively and our offense was OK,” UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. “The offensive efficiency was pretty good but the defensive efficiency was not so good.

“In the second half we really defended well and our efficiency showed that. We saw some growth in the last 20 minutes which is really good because we need to see growth from these guys going forward. I thought we saw some growth in the second half which is good because we are cranking up the competition as we move to Kansas City.

“We know we are getting an outstanding opponent in Creighton and then whoever we face on Tuesday we know will be an outstanding opponent. It was good that those last 20 minutes produced some growth.”

Perhaps the slow start is a hangover from the China trip and playing on one day’s rest, but all’s well that ends well and there’s nothing better from UCLA’s standpoint than a win.

True freshman guard, Jaylen Hands led UCLA in scoring with a career-best, 24 points. Hands also contributed four assists and two steals to the winning effort.

Senior center, Thomas Welsh notched another double-double, his 21st of his career by scoring 13 points and had a game-high 15 boards. True freshman, Kris Wilkes added 14 points.

The Bruins were able to get productive work off the bench and this bodes well for UCLA. True freshman guard Chris Smith provided a spark off the bench scoring 15 points and played solid defense. Smith also added three assists and one blocked shot to the cause.

Redshirt sophomore Alex Olesinski had another solid outing grabbing 10 rebounds, scoring eight points and played solid defense, blocking two shots and getting a steal.

Another redshirt sophomore, Prince Ali scored five points and had two steals while playing good defense.

Alford was very pleased with his bench play.

“I thought both Chris Smith and Alex Olesinski were outstanding all week,” Alford said. “Not good, but outstanding on both ends. I thought Chris defensively was better tonight than he was a couple of nights ago. Alex has been solid in both of those games which is great to see.

“Chris is young and Alex has a little bit more age to him and had to sit out last season but we know Alex has a really high basketball IQ. Chris is obviously a special talent as a 6-foot-9 athletic, long guard.

“He [Smith] let the game come to him and didn’t force anything. He really let the game come to him. He used his length defensively and we need that. We need our bigs to be productive. And if Prince [Ali] makes free throws then we had good production out of him tonight too. The bench has been pretty good.”

This Bruin won’t have a lot of time to rest. They will be jetting to Kansas City where a tough Creighton (3-0) team waits to play in the Hall of Fame Classic. Tipoff is Monday evening at 4:00 PM PST and the venue will be the Sprint Center. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU

UCLA will play either Baylor or Wisconsin on Tuesday evening. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 PM PST.

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