The Bruins rode their best defensive effort of the season to a second straight victory.
UCLA men’s basketball (6-2) handed Loyola Marymount (8-1) its first loss of the year with an 82-58 win over the Lions at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday night. The 58-point output by LMU is tied for the lowest of any Bruin opponent this season.
UCLA clogged the paint early and often, forcing the Lions to shoot over its length on the perimeter. Bruins coach Steve Alford said they put an emphasis on shutting down guard James Batemon – the Lions’ leading scorer – since he did not trust Batemon to beat UCLA from the outside.
“We wanted to try to keep him out of the drive, keep him out of the paint because he’s so good,” Alford said. “He’s great at drawing fouls. I think he’s No. 1 in the country on free-throw makes, so we obviously wanted to try to keep him off the free-throw line, we didn’t want to foul him. We wanted him to be a jump shooter over our length because I wasn’t as sold on jump shooting as much as I was his driving, but he can post you.”
Batemon struggled to do much of anything on Sunday, being held to just seven points on 2-of-14 shooting and a 0-of-5 night from deep. As a team, LMU finished the night with a 29 percent shooting percentage and just two players made 3s on 16 attempts from beyond the arc.
The Bruins also maintained a lead throughout the night, never trailing at any point during the contest. Despite LMU’s being within 10 or so points for the first 35 minutes of the game, Alford said he was impressed by his team’s ability to slow down any momentum the Lions started to build.
“I don’t know of any big runs that they threw at us,” Alford said. “Maybe four, five, six points at the most, and I thought our guys did a good job of when that happened of attacking the basket, getting a layup or getting fouled.”
Sophomore guards Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes led the way for UCLA on offense, each scoring 17 points. Hands also logged 10 assists, giving him his first career double-double at UCLA in 39 total appearances with the program.
Hands said that although Sunday’s win was a step in the right direction for the Bruins, he believes the team has plenty of room for improvement moving forward.
“I think today we did a really good job of not letting up after half,” Hands said. “I think we played well for long periods of time, and we only hit five threes of 21, so if we can get that going, I think we can be even better.”
Freshman center Moses Brown recorded his first double-double since he posted three straight to open the season with a 12-point, 10-rebound performance Sunday. The 7-footer finished 6-of-7 from the floor, with five of his six baskets coming courtesy of the dunk.
Brown said he was frustrated by his recent struggles and emphasized to himself that he needed to start playing with more energy.
“I definitely didn’t like how that felt so I just learned that I have to come out with more intensity,” Brown said. “I learned that this is the next level, it’s not high school anymore, so I can’t play around with these teams.”
UCLA will return to the court to host Notre Dame on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.