Monday, 27 November 2017 15:00

Bruins Top Anteaters, 87-63

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Ali UCIIf it’s not globetrotting making things harder than usual for this UCLA basketball team, let’s add an injury to an undermanned squad handing them another dose of adversity. The Bruins without the services of injured true freshman starting guard, Jaylen Hands, saw sophomore guard Prince Ali given the nod and he didn’t disappoint. Ali led all scorers with a career-high 21 points while leading UCLA (5-1) to an 87-63 over UC Irvine (2-4).

“Really proud of our guys,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “We talked since we got back from the road trip to Kansas City how important this four-game homestand and growth.

“I think we are the only team in the country that has flown for 31 hours and 16,000 miles and we’ve been able to get four wins to date and coming into this homestand.

“Getting our fifth win tonight was one thing we really focused on after all the travel and being on the road that much. Getting wins over a Big Ten team and an ACC team is huge early in the season for our team.

“I think we saw growth tonight, especially defensively. Offensively we executed much better in the second half. We were in a little bit of a hurry in the first half and we didn’t make shots. We were 5 of 17 from three, we should make 65 percent of our free throws and despite that, we win the game by 26.

“That tells me our growth defensively was good. We did a good job of taking them out of their posts, which is what they are very good at. This is probably the best low-post team we have played and we really negated that from the opening tip.

“I told the team we wanted 40 minutes and I think we got about 32. The last two minutes of the first half and the first six minutes of the second half were not what the way we need to get engaged defensively. Other than that I liked how we were engaged defensively.”

Including Ali, all five starters scored in double-figures. Holiday contributed 16 points and a game-high seven assists. True frosh guard Kris Wilkes scored 14 points and senior forward Gyorgy Golomon added 12 points.

Senior center, Thomas Welsh, notched his fourth double-double of the season scoring 13 points and grabbing a game-high 13 boards.

The Bruin defense appears to be improving they held the Anteaters to shooting 34.4 percent from the field, but UCI did much better from beyond the arc hitting 41.7 percent of their threes. You would like to get that three-point percentage down.

“I think we defended it very well and when we got stops we got out and ran,” Alford said. “We didn’t shoot the ball the way we normally shoot it. But as I told the team we will live with that if we can build the culture defensively and tonight we had a really good culture defensively.”

The will stay home for a while their next three games are at Pauley. Wednesday's game against CSU Bakersfield will be televised by the Pac 12 Network and will be broadcast by UCLA Sports Network from IMG on your radio dial AM 57. Then the Bruins will host Detroit Mercy on Sunday, Dec. 3, and Montana on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

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