The 3-ball wasn’t falling, so UCLA men’s basketball looked elsewhere to try and end its two-game skid.
Freshman forward T.J. Leaf started the night hot, hitting his first five shots to score 12 points and finishing the game with a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds for the double-double to lead No. 11 UCLA (20-3, 7-3 Pac-12) in a 95-79 win over Washington State (11-11, 4-6).
The Bruins shot a season-worst 18.8 percent from beyond the arc. Yet, UCLA went back to the formula that has worked all season – just give it to the freshmen.
Leaf shot 77.8 percent from the field, showing off his athleticism on lobs and his craftiness with the ball in his hands. Freshman guard Lonzo Ball filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and five steals while setting the UCLA freshman single-season record for assists.
Senior guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton never got going, shooting a combined 4-of-14 from the field. Instead, sophomore guard Aaron Holiday filled in for them on the wing off the bench with 13 points. Junior center Thomas Welsh stretched the floor, hitting several long jumpers for 17 points.
While the defense allowed the Cougars to shoot over 50 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from the 3-point line, the Bruins forced 14 turnovers and won the offensive rebounding battle 9-7.
After back-to-back losses that tested the team’s identity, UCLA returned to form and taught Washington State a lesson so many Bruin opponents have learned this season – it’s hard to keep up when the offense is running and humming.