Friday, October 20

ASU the latest team to fall against men’s basketball’s fierce offense


Sophomore Aaron Holiday had eight points in another edition of UCLA's patented run against ASU. The Bruins have utilized these runs en route to a 19-1 record. (Mackenzie Possee/Assistant Photo editor)

Sophomore Aaron Holiday had eight points in another edition of UCLA's patented run against ASU. The Bruins have utilized these runs en route to a 19-1 record. (Mackenzie Possee/Assistant Photo editor)


Arizona State tried.

The Sun Devils (9-10, 2-4 Pac-12) really did.

The visitors, who are ninth in the conference, made it close with a late first-half run that extended into the second half to cut the lead to just seven points with 12 minutes left in the game.

But then No. 3 UCLA (19-1, 6-1) did what it does best – it went on a backbreaking run that the other team just could not keep up with.

“They scored, we scored and it was up and down, but we think that favors us,” said freshman guard Lonzo Ball.

Coach Steve Alford runs a gameplan centered around wearing the other team down with fast-paced offense.

Few teams have pushed the Bruins – who average 124 points in 100 possessions per Kem Pom – to the brink and no team has run with them for the entire 40 minutes.

Michigan shot lights out from 3 in the first half, but could not match that output for the second 20 minutes.

Oregon, the only team to upset UCLA this year, kept up with UCLA for most of the game.

But the Ducks still had lulls where they could not sustain that high-octane pace.

Players like freshman forward T.J. Leaf and senior guard Bryce Alford have been able to come up the floor to hit consecutive buckets that put pressure back on the other team.

Nothing changed against ASU.

The Bruins’ lead went from seven to 21 in three minutes and any indications of an upset vanished.

“This team is different (than other teams),” Steve Alford said. “They trust each other a lot. Its like, ‘OK, now we’re gonna get a layup and get a stop then bust a 3,’ and it goes from seven to 12 just like that.”

ASU never got closer than 18 the rest of the way.

Those runs, which could be fueled by any given player, are something opposing coaches have been unable to combat.

On Thursday night, it was sophomore guard Aaron Holiday facilitated by Ball.

“I just tell (Ball), ‘Downhill,” Steve Alford said. “Zo beats you in so many different ways. That’s what makes us hard to guard. We can make shots in a variety of different ways.”

Holiday had eight points off two Ball assists during that 14-0 run and reciprocated by throwing the assist to Ball on a breakaway dunk.

“The pace we play at, we know not everybody can play at that pace. That’s our game,” Holiday said.

That pace has led the Bruins to a 19-1 record this season for the first time since the 1991-1992 season.

“They are a 10-0 run team just waiting to happen,” said Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins after UCLA’s 82-68 win earlier in December.

Western Michigan tried, and failed, to slow UCLA down.

So did Nebraska and Texas A&M.

Arizona State is now just another team that has fallen victim to the UCLA run.

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