Men’s basketball leaves desert scorched by loss to Arizona State
UCLA men’s basketball finished off a tough three-game stretch with matchups against USC, Arizona and Arizona State with a loss to the Sun Devils. The Bruins won each of the other two games. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)
By Hanson Wang
Feb. 10, 2018 6:20 p.m.
This post was updated Feb. 10 at 7:10 p.m.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Turns out the Bruins’ torrid shooting in the desert was just a mirage.
After sinking nearly 46 percent of its 3-pointers Thursday against Arizona, UCLA men’s basketball went through a drought from long distance Saturday against Arizona State. Coach Steve Alford’s team shot a dismal 30.8 percent from beyond the arc in a 88-79 loss to the Sun Devils (19-6, 7-6 Pac-12) on Saturday afternoon.
“We for sure didn’t make enough shots to win,” said junior guard Aaron Holiday, who scored 15 points in the last three minutes of the game. “Offensively, the ball stuck a lot and that’s my fault.”
UCLA (17-8, 8-5) carried over some of its shooting stroke from Tucson, opening the game shooting 7-of-10. But any heat quickly dissipated when it only made six of its 22 shots the rest of the half, missing its last nine 3-pointers.
During a nearly seven-minute period midway through the first half, UCLA missed nine consecutive shots, and Arizona State went on a 15-4 run to claim the lead for good.
“We had a bad stretch in the first half offensively where we took some quick shots instead of continuing to work the ball inside,” Alford said. “They were able to build an eight-to-10-point lead and that’s what really stayed the whole game.”
No Bruin was able to get into an offensive rhythm aside from senior forward GG Goloman, who backed up a career-high 16-point performance against Arizona with 11 points off 5-of-7 shooting Saturday.
“We definitely missed a huge opportunity that we had with this loss tonight,” Goloman said. “During the game we made some mistakes, especially defensively, that led them to get hot.”
Arizona State guard Kodi Justice torched the bottom of the net, making four shots in the first 10 minutes of the game for 10 quick points. He finished with 17 points, while guards Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II combined for 45.
“They’re three great guards, they made some big shots, some big plays and we didn’t really have an answer for that tonight,” Goloman said. “I think that’s what made the difference.”
Holiday was held to only three points in the opening period off 1-for-4 shooting and finished with 20, but he also committed five turnovers before fouling out in the final minute. UCLA as a team had 12 turnovers and 11 assists.
“He was in sync early as far as getting the ball to where it needed to go and he was in sync late,” Alford said. “(Holiday’s) getting the toughest (defensive) assignment every night and we can’t give him a break on that, so I think he fights. Was it one of his more outstanding games? No, but we certainly understand it.”
Freshman guard Kris Wilkes also struggled offensively. He made only four of his 15 shots and had a stretch during which he missed two highly contested layups and wasn’t paying attention to an outlet pass that bounced off him for a turnover and easy Arizona State dunk.