This post was updated Jan. 8 at 7:51 p.m.
No. 4 UCLA jumped on Stanford quickly, took a double-digit lead early and cruised the rest of the way.
Not a bad way to win a basketball game.
The UCLA student section lined up as early as 2 p.m. for a 5 p.m. tipoff, stretching the line up Bruin Walk and all the way around down Charles E. Young Drive to watch the Bruins (16-1, 3-1 Pac-12) take an easy 89-75 game over the Cardinal (8-8, 0-4).
— Derrek Li (@DerrekLi) January 9, 2017
With classes starting again tomorrow, not a bad way to begin the winter quarter.
Of course there were still issues to sort out, especially in the second half.
“It’s kind of fun, you’re at 16-1 and yet you can still see an awful lot of growth that we still have ahead of us and things we got to work on to get better and improve, and that’s a positive,” said coach Steve Alford. “If we were 16-1 and can’t do things any better, then I think we’d plateau out, but I think the ceiling for this team is still very, very high, and that’s exciting.”
After taking a commanding 48-30 lead into halftime off crisp ball movement and stifling defense, UCLA just couldn’t figure out how to put the game to bed.
The Bruins shot 52.8 percent from the field and dished out 15 assists on 19 total made shots in the first half, then got a bit more lazy and wild resulting in 46.2 percent shooting and seven assists on 12 field goals.
“Just focus, we just got to put two halves together,” Ball said.
But the defense held up on the other end, holding the Cardinal to just 37.8 percent shooting the entire game.
As has been the case for most of the season, Stanford just couldn’t keep up with UCLA’s talented freshmen duo of guard Lonzo Ball and forward TJ Leaf. Ball finished the night with 21 points, eight assists, six rebounds, two blocks and three steals, and Leaf added 15 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal.
Senior guard Bryce Alford balanced it out with 17 points on 66.7 percent shooting while senior guard Isaac Hamilton still had a difficult time finding his range.
Over the last three games Hamilton shot a freezing 2-of-24 from the field, and while he was aggressive in looking for his shots tonight, results were mixed.
He did score 15 points, but needed 15 shots to do so and shot just 1-of-7 from the 3-point line.
But against the Cardinal, the Bruins didn’t need everyone firing on all cylinders.
“You always want to be in control in games, and the way we played in the first half allowed us to be in control of the game the whole second half, even when they threw their best punches at us,” Alford said.
A big home crowd and the now-expected impressive showing from their star freshmen were more than enough.