Monday, 01 January 2018 16:15

Bruins Roar Back and Win Going Away

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Wilkes K UWIf you tuned out at halftime you probably thought that the Bruins were about to go down to a crumbling home-court defeat to the Huskies. In the first-half UDub’s zone defense was wreaking havoc and UCLA’s offense was out of rhythm. The Bruins trailed by eight at the half and didn’t look like the Bruins had an answer for what the Huskies were doing on the defensive end.

The Bruins became defensive as well and started to run the floor getting easier shots on offense before the Huskies could set up their squelching defense. The Bruins took total command in the second-half. The discipline that the Huskies displayed in the first-stanza was dismantled and fell into disarray.

UCLA (11-3, 2-0) took an eight-point deficit and ended defeating Washington (11-4, 1-1) in crushing fashion, 74-53. How dominating were the Bruins in the second-half? UCLA scored 46 second-half points, Washington was held to only 17.

“Super proud of our guys,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “This is obviously a night that for 22-23 minutes not a lot was going right. We didn’t rebound the ball well, we didn’t defend, we turned the ball over and we weren’t making shots.

“We really challenged the guys at halftime about having a little bit more effort. Our effort, when you play a Pac-12 game and you finish on a 45-10 run, when you go on a run like that your effort is on another level. We grew up tonight and did a lot of good things.

“In the second half, we held them to 17 percent shooting and 17 points and outrebounded them on a night that we didn’t click. We didn’t have a lot of guys shoot the ball well and had more turnovers than assists and to come out with a 21-point win against a team that’s very good and having a good year, I’m really happy.”

The Bruins had three players who scored in double-figures, led by Kris Wilkes, who had a career-high and game-high 21 points. Aaron Holiday accounted for 14 points and had a game-high five assists. Prince Ali added 12 points and Thomas Welsh came down with a game-high 12 rebounds.

It was a great win where the Bruins will be able to learn and grow from. It’s never easy to overcome an eight-point lead at the half, but the Bruins did just that.

“I thought we showed some maturity,” Alford said. “When you are down 14, with 17 minutes to go and win by 21, you’ve done some really good things. I told the locker room I was really proud of them because there are a lot of teams that wouldn’t have been able to come back from that.”

UCLA will take its act on the road and hit the bay area. The first stop will be at Stanford on Thursday, Jan. 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM PST at Maples Pavilion. The contest will be televised by FS1. After the Stanford game, the Bruins will head to the East Bay to play Cal on Saturday, Jan. 6.

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