Tuesday, September 25

TJ Leaf leads Bruins to 54-30 against Gauchos at halftime


Freshman forward TJ Leaf powered UCLA to a 54-30 lead at halftime, with 17 points and 8 rebounds in the first half. (Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Freshman forward TJ Leaf powered UCLA to a 54-30 lead at halftime, with 17 points and 8 rebounds in the first half. (Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)


It was the TJ Leaf show.

The freshman forward dominated the game – in the paint and beyond the arc – as No. 2 UCLA (10-0) took a 54-30 lead over visiting UC Santa Barbara (1-6) at halftime.

Facing a zone defense for just the second game this year, the Bruins didn’t falter. They made over 52 percent of their shots, including 8-of-22 from beyond the arc.

[Related: Men’s basketball to face new challenges against UCSB]

Leaf had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting to lead all scorers. He nearly notched a double-double, with eight rebounds in 17 minutes of play.

He stretched the defense with his perimeter play, shooting 75 percent from long distance, and beat the overmatched Gaucho defenders with his athleticism and speed.

UCSB – which grabs 34.7 percent of its own misses – struggled in the paint against UCLA, finishing with 16 rebounds.

Leaf and freshman point guard Lonzo Ball combined for 15 of the Bruins’ 23 boards and 10 of the team’s 16 assists.

Ball had just three points, but only one turnover.

The defense, which coach Steve Alford pointed out as one of the areas that needs improvement before Pac-12 play begins later this month, forced seven turnovers and limited the Gauchos to 38.7 percent shooting in the half.

Sophomore guard Aaron Holiday came off the bench to notch three steals, nine points and four assists.

Holiday capped off the half by sinking a three-pointer as the buzzer ran out – off of another TJ Leaf assist.

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