“Hey you kids: Get offa my Lonzo!” — The sound of people criticizing Lonzo Ball’s unconventional shooting mechanics continues to fade, as he goes 4-for-5 from downtown and scores a team-high 21 points in UCLA’s 89-75 rout of Stanford
Once again, UCLA blows out a Pac-12 opponent in the first half behind Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf, and Bryce Alford, and then coasts to victory in cruise control. On Sunday night against Stanford, the Bruins shot out to an 18-point lead at halftime, built it up to 23 in the second half, then, as usual, eased up a bit. The Cardinal cut the lead to 11 before the Bruins put it out of reach, ending up with an 89-75 victory. That’s an improvement over the previous game, when UCLA allowed Cal to within 5 before clamping down.
And for the second game in a row, there were clearly 3 Bruin stars outplaying the rest of the team. The Bruins are 16-1, and Lonzo Ball has had about 16 great games of those 17, including Sunday night. Lonzo hit some early Three’s on his way to 21 points. He also had 8 Assists, 6 Rebounds, 3 Steals, and 2 Blocks. T.J. Leaf also continued his own consistent play with 15 Points, 10 Rebounds, 2 Blocks and a Steal. Rounding out the three stars was Bryce Alford, who, like Lonzo, went 4-for-5 from behind the arc. Alford finished with 17 Points. Those three carried the Bruins, who had to endure a 3-for-11 shooting night from Thomas Welsh. Isaac Hamilton appeared like he might be emerging from his month-long slump when he hit an early Three, and he did manage to score 15 Points. HOWEVER, he was still a troubling 1-for-7 from Three-point Land, so it looks like he needs to keep hitting the practice court for more work on his perimeter shot.
The Bruins had plenty to overcome a weak Stanford team, but they will need to be firing on more than 3 cylinders to win a Conference Title and to go deep into the Big Dance. Hamilton and Aaron Holiday will have to find their respective grooves for this team to live up to their #4 Ranking. Right after UCLA wrapped up the victory, their previous victim, the Cal Bears, tipped off with u$c in the Galen Center. It was a close, exciting game that went down to the wire. In the final seconds,
Cal’s Ivan Rabb was fouled and made two free throws to give the Bears a 1-point lead 74-73, and then when sc’s point guard tried to win it at the buzzer, Rabb blocked his inside shot to end the game. So that bodes well for Bruin fans — sc lost at home to a team that UCLA was beating by 20 at halftime and that lost to the Bruins by 10. Of course, sc is still missing one of their best players, so hopefully Hamilton can get his shot back before the trojans get Boatwright back.
Speaking of bad news for trojans, last week after Alabama beat Washington to earn a spot in tonight’s Championship game against Clemson, the Crimson Tide FIRED their Offensive Coordinator, ex-trojan Coach Lane Kiffin. The timing of this termination is curious. Kiffin had just signed on to be the head coach at FAU next year, but he was still calling plays for the Tide in the Playoff win over the Huskies. Suddenly, Nick Saban axes him, handing over the reins of the Offense in the National Championship to another former sc Coach, Steve Sarkisian, the recovering alcoholic! Obviously, Kiffin did something heinous that pissed off Saban, so the Bama Head Coach told Lane to hit the bricks, depriving Kiffin of the joy of winning an NCAA Title. This is the second time that Kiffin has been fired ignominiously — a few years ago, Pat Haden famously fired him on a tarmac at LAX.
And the bad headlines for ex-trojan footballers continues, as former troy Linebacker Jack Del Rio got knocked out of the NFL Playoffs when the Raiders got killed by Houston. Del Rio got out-coached, in a way. Due to injuries, Oakland was down to a third-string Quarterback with virtually zero experience, in his career-first START, but Del Rio “trusted” him to do all sorts of things that he was incapable of doing, against the NFL’s top defense. A good coach would have come up with a better plan.
And that wasn’t the only recent NFL failure involving an ex-trojan. At the end of the regular season, it was revealed that REGGIE BUSH had done something that NO ONE had done in the NFL’s modern (post-merger) era: He finished the season for Buffalo with NEGATIVE yards rushing! This had not been done by someone who had a minimum amount of carries since 1961. So Bush in essence has set a new record for SUCKING as a Pro Football Running Back.
Okay, enough about the travails of troy. Let’s move on to 49 more photos of the splendid UCLA Dance Team. But first, speaking of Dance, congratulations to La La Land for dominating the Golden Globes. This Film Musical, set in L.A., was a well-done throwback film, with beautiful cinematography and wonderful production design. I won’t rave about the songs or the plot, but if you like musicals, you are likely to enjoy this movie. Now, on to a group that is worthy of all the awards you can imagine…