Sunday, 11 February 2018 14:56

UCLA Has To Settle For Split

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Golomon GG ASU021018UCLA (17-8, 8-5) started out strong taking an early lead 12-7, but once Arizona State (19-6, 7-6) were able to their sea legs it was all Sun Devils defeating the Bruins 88-79, thus gaining a sweep over the two Los Angeles schools.

“Those three guards hurt us,” Alford said. “It’s a hard prep with just a day, and we knew this was going to be a difficult trip. It’s a tough trip, and we exhausted a ton of energy on Thursday night. I thought we had great effort Thursday night, and I thought our effort was good tonight.

“I wish we would have been a little nastier. I think they’re giving us what they have. We only have eight guys. I think five guys played 35-plus minutes, down in Tucson. We didn’t go to the gym yesterday and didn’t want to do a shootaround this morning in order to maximize rest and did all of our prep in the hotel. I thought the guys did a good job with that.

“Those three guards got away from us. Those three are very talented guards, and they had it going. There was a stretch in the first half where we had a pretty good rhythm, and we then had a bad stretch in the first half, offensively, where we took some quick shots instead of instead of working on getting the ball inside. That’s what we wanted to do because we thought we had an advantage there.

“ASU was able to build an eight to 10 points lead, and that is pretty much where it stayed the whole game. We were never able to overcome that five-minute stretch in the first half.”

Yes, those three guards were all outstanding for the Sun Devils. Senior, Shannon Evans had a game-high 23 points, senior Tra Holder added 22 points, and senior Kodi Justice chipped in 17.

It was one of those games where the opposition played just a little better and when that happens the ball seems to bounce your way just a little more.

The Sun Devils shot 25-28 from the foul line, compared to 11-12 for the Bruins, much of those free throws were when UCLA was trying to rally and stopping the clock in hopes that ASU would miss on the front end of a one-plus-one.

This loss stings because there was so much to gain for UCLA, but road wins are hard to come by in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bruins at least leave the desert with a split.

“Anytime you lose it’s a lost opportunity,” Alford said. “Losing at Michigan was a lost opportunity. Losing at Stanford was a lost opportunity. To be able to win on the road in this league means you’re taking advantage of an opportunity.

“I assume that there won’t be many teams that go in and win in Tucson – that have played there or that have to play there in the next few weeks. I don’t think that a lot of teams will win here, either. This split becomes vital if we go home and take care of business against the Oregon schools.

“This is a big week. We have to get rest tomorrow, and then we have to get after it on Monday because what we did this week sets up next week where those two teams have already beaten us. We have to figure out how to hold serve at home. If we do that, it sets up the last three-game road swing.”

UCLA had four players who scored in double-figures. Aaron Holiday scored 20, Thomas Welsh contributed 14 points while GG Golomon and Kris Wilkes scored 11 points apiece.

Now the Bruins get ready for the two Oregon schools for the last homestand of the season.

UCLA will play Oregon State Thursday Evening in Pauley Pavilion. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 PM PST and the game will be televised nationally by Fox Sports 1.

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