Saturday, 30 December 2017 15:47

Bruins Open Pac-12 Play With Win

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Holiday A WSUUCLA (10-3, 1-0) was able to carry the momentum garnered with their victory over Kentucky with another impressive win over an upset motivated Washington State (8-5, 0-1) outlasting the Cougars, 96-82.

The Bruins and Cougars were playing a hard-fought game with UCLA only leading by five points at the half. UCLA came out with a 6-0 run to start the second stanza, but Washington State roared and was able to get the game as close as 64-62 with less than 10 minutes to play, but that’s when the Bruins took over and went on a 13-2 run and kept the Cougars at bay.

“Really proud of the guys,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “To get a big win like we did against Kentucky and then to come back and to open up the conference season at home after a break, I thought the guys played well. I thought we really competed and played hard.

“If there was a negative I thought they made too many 3-pointers, but that’s what they do, we just didn’t get them off the line as much as we wanted to. We dominated the free throw line. I thought we scored at a very high level and valued the basketball with only seven turnovers in our conference opener at home.

“We had some good growth tonight. We had some guys, Prince [Ali], I told him afterward that I don’t think he had a very good shooting night but he guarded well and there’s growth in that. When your shots not going in you have to do some other things and I think he did some really good things. Jaylen [Hands] got hot in the second half which is good to see. Aaron [Holiday] was spectacular. “

Yes, Holiday was spectacular. The junior point guard notched his first double-double of the season scoring a game and career-high 33 points. A career high in rebounds with 11. Holiday also tied two other players for a game four assists and had one steal and one blocked shot. He also joined the exclusive 1,000 career point club with his performance.

Thomas Welsh also joined the career point club and added another double-double to his resume scoring 12 points and coming down with a game-high 14 boards.

“That was a special night for him [Holiday] and I’m really happy with him and Thomas [Welsh] for both of them going over 1,000 career points,” Alford said. “That’s something special, when you’re playing in a place like UCLA, to go over 1,000 points, it tells you what you’ve done in your career, and both of those guys did some really good things.”

Jaylen Hands had an outstanding night coming off the bench scoring 19 points and had four assists. Kris Wilkes added 14 points and five rebounds. What was notable about Wilkes performance was he was 7-9 from the free-throw line and that is a marked improvement.

All in all the Bruins shot 78.8 percent [26-33] from the line and that will make it tough on the opposition.

It appears that the Bruins are improving as the season progresses. UCLA’s next test is Sunday Evening, which happens to be New Year’s Eve. Tipoff at Pauley Pavilion is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network and AM1150 will broadcast the game on local radio.

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