Sunday, 17 December 2017 15:05

Bearcats Get Defensive Against Bruins

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Holiday ACincyThe same problem that UCLA (7-3) had in the second-half against Michigan reared its ugly head once again in the first-half against No. 23 Cincinnati (9-2). The Bruins because of a pressure defense by the Bearcats turned the ball over that led to an 18-0 run that the Bruins were never able to recover, losing the game 77-63.

The Bearcats outscored the Bruins 23-11 on points caused by turnovers. There aren’t many teams that are going to be able to overcome that.

“You have to give credit to Cincinnati because that’s where they hang their hat,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “They’re an outstanding defensive team. They are big, strong and physical. So you give them a lot of credit.

“You can’t turn the ball over 18 times, 15 in the first half, that’s equating to 30 turnovers a game. But in the second half, it was even, we played them even and the difference was turnovers. They didn’t allow us to score a point for seven minutes. I haven’t watched the tape but I bet we had a bucket-load of turnovers during that stretch.

“So we aren’t giving your offense a chance. Then you’re giving a team like Cincinnati that doesn’t run a lot, but they do run on our mistakes. I thought our defense did some really good things, they just scored a lot of their points on our miscues offensively. We’re talking about ball handling and ill-advised passes. So those are some things that we have to fix and shape up quickly.”

Even though the Bruins went through a drought of scoring in the first-half much of that was due to Cincinnati’s tenacious defense that frustrated the team.

The Bearcats doubled Thomas Welsh in the first-half and he never had his shooting rhythm throughout the game, but that didn’t deter this young Bruin team. They didn’t quit. They fought hard. This a young team that has had to face a lot of off-court adversity, yet this is a determined group that has the potential to be a solid team down the road.

“I’m really proud of our effort,” Alford said. “That’s a really good basketball team with grown men. We have some young guys that will really grow from this. We just had a really tough first half handling the basketball, kind of like the second half against Michigan.”

“If you take away the second half at Michigan and the first half here against Cincinnati, in terms of turnovers, it puts us in a different position. You get the same amount of offensive rebounds and the same amount of total rebounds against this Cincinnati team, I’m ecstatic about that. Shot attempts were about the same, you make 11 3-pointers against this team, that doesn’t happen very often.

“I just thought the difference was turnovers. That beat us by 12 points on turnovers, but it felt like more. They beat us by 14 overall and 12 of those were off of turnovers. So the whole difference in that game was pass-catch, ball movement.

“Our offense has to catch up but defensively we are really growing and maturing. I told the team in the locker room that we are starting to trust each other defensively and that’s good. Our offense has got to catch up with that same kind of trust.”

UCLA had three players that scored in double-figures led by Aaron Holiday who scored 17 points, Jaylen Hands added 14 points off the bench and Kris Wilkes chipped in 12 points.

The Bruins have a couple of days to work on their game before returning to action against South Dakota on Tuesday, Dec. 19, in Pauley Pavilion. Game time is 6:00 PM PST. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

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