Wednesday, February 20

UCLA men’s basketball overpowers Michigan in second half to win 102-84

Freshman guard Lonzo Ball powered the offense with 19 points and seven assists to help UCLA move to 10-0 on the season. (Jennifer Hu/Daily Bruin staff)

Freshman guard Lonzo Ball powered the offense with 19 points and seven assists to help UCLA move to 10-0 on the season. (Jennifer Hu/Daily Bruin staff)

This post was updated Dec. 10 at 7:49 p.m.

With just over a minute left in the first half, it looked like the game was slipping away from UCLA. After holding a 6-point lead with 5:31 before halftime, the Bruins found themselves suddenly down seven to the Michigan Wolverines.

Then Lonzo Ball took over.

The freshman guard sprinted down the court end-to-end before finding senior guard Isaac Hamilton for a corner 3. Then Ball stole a pass that ended with another 3-pointer from sophomore guard Aaron Holiday.

To cap it off, Ball casually drained a 3 from almost the UCLA logo at halfcourt to tie the game at 50 apiece before halftime in front of a sold-out crowd at Pauley Pavilion.

“Every shot I shoot, I expect to make,” Ball said. “I was in rhythm. I shot it, and it went in.”

No. 2 UCLA men’s basketball (10-0) came out of the locker room fired up, seizing the lead away from Michigan (7-3) and never giving it back en route to a 102-84 win.

“The 3-point ball was getting away from us and they were making some key shots, but anytime you could get back into it tied at half and we’re coming out of half with the ball, that was big,” said coach Steve Alford. “Then in the first eight to 10 minutes in the second half, we were able to build that lead.”

The 3s were falling for both teams the entire game – the Bruins shot 15-for-24 and the Wolverines shot 14-of-26.

The second half was a different story, with UCLA holding Michigan to just 2-of-10 shooting from behind the 3-point line after allowing the Wolverines to shoot 75 percent in the first half. The Bruins kept up their hot shooting, going 50 percent in the last 20 minutes.

“They came in really hot, we knew they shot a ton of 3s per game, we knew that was what they were going to try to establish but we couldn’t do a good job taking that away in the first half,” said senior guard Bryce Alford. “Second half I feel like we started to wear them down.”

Even with starting junior center Thomas Welsh out with a bruised right knee, UCLA controlled the paint on both ends of the floor, outscoring Michigan 42-22 in the key.

Freshman forward TJ Leaf picked up the slack with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Ball finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Freshman forward/center Ike Anigbogu, who missed the first part of the season recovering from knee surgery, showed off his rim-protecting potential with four blocks.

“We’ve known what (Anigbogu) could do from practice,” Leaf said. “It’s just a good coming out party for him, just starting to play his game.”.

Holiday shot lights-out, going 6-of-7 from the field including 5-of-5 from 3 en route to 17 points and five assists.

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Derrek Li is a senior staff writer covering UCLA basketball. In the past, he has covered UCLA football, women’s basketball and men’s soccer. He also served as an assistant sports editor two years ago. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekLi.

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  • Heart of a Bruin

    GO Bruins GO!!!!! You made the alumni proud tonight. This is how it always was in the good ‘ol days!