Friday, 26 January 2018 15:04

Bruins Get Back In Winning Column

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Holiday A Cal012518UCLA (14-7, 5-4) used an 18-0 run in the first-half, without the services Bruin senior center Thomas Welsh, who left the game due to an injury, to take the lead and eventually defeat Cal (7-14, 1-7) by a score of 70-57, stopping the Bruin losing streak at three.

“Extremely proud of our guys,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “We’ve spent the better part of the last three days trying to get back to our identity and who we are.

“Offensively we haven’t been that far off in the last three games, but defensively we’ve been way off. We haven’t been very tough to play against and we’ve had slippage in our principles.

“Tonight we really fought. We missed some open shots and I told the guys that that’s going to happen. We turned them over 10 times at Cal and tonight 15 times.

“They (Cal) are a very good offensive rebounding team but I thought we fought and had some toughness to us tonight. Really proud of them taking what we did in practice this week and taking it into the game.”

Alford has a point, Cal out rebounded the Bruins off the offensive glass, 19 to 10 and the Bears outscored UCLA 20-6 on second-chance points. Usually, this is a recipe for disaster, but the Bruins prevailed.

UCLA shot very well from the line and that helped secure the victory. The Bruins were 25-32 from the line hitting 78.1percent of their foul shots. The Bears, on the other hand, were 9-16 hitting at a 56 percent clip. The Bruins outscored the Bears by 16 points from the line.

The Bruins had three players who scored in double-figures. Aaron Holiday led the way scoring 21 points and a team-high six assists. Jaylen Hands scored 14 points and Kris Wilkes scored 10 points. Chris Smith has been playing well of late, chipped in nine points.

It was a good victory for the Bruins playing with a banged up Welsh and getting a solid win. Alford is very impressed by his senior center and talks about the injury and the player.

“You always hate any of your players going down,” Alford said. “Tom has worked so hard. Back in September, he broke his nose and sat out a little while for that. And in January, he breaks his nose and then has to wear a mask for every league game except for two. But, he just continues to get a double-double.

“Tonight, he got seven points and five rebounds and came back to make some huge plays for us, both offensively and defensively. He dives on the floor for a ball in the second half.

“We don’t know the extent, but it’s probably good news that he was able to come back. We will let the medical staff do what they have to do to figure out where we go from here.

“That nose has been stitched three times this year already. He’s an amazing guy. He just gives him everything he’s got. When I went out to see him, I know that he was most frustrated, not for him, but he was upset because he knows what he means to this team. He’s an incredible teammate.”

The Bruins will host Stanford (11-10, 5-4 Pac-12) Saturday Evening in Pauley Pavilion. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM PST. The contest will be televised game by the Pac-12 Network.

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