No one can resist our Sweaty Ball — Wooden Award Favorite Lonzo Ball plays all 40 minutes, leads UCLA with 17 Points, 8 Assists, and FIVE Steals, and carries the Bruins back from a 9-Point, 2nd Half deficit to boot the Utes, 83-82, along with crucial contributions from determined Aaron Holiday, “perfect” Thomas Welsh, and the stupid Utes themselves, who take and make a TWO at the buzzer when down by THREE
Hey Lonzo: You deserve a break today, and I’m Loving It. These two famous McDonald’s slogans seem appropriate today, especially with this coming Friday marking the Nationwide release of the fantastic movie “The Founder,” a biopic based on Ray Kroc’s “discovery” and development of the “Golden Arches.”
Lonzo has certainly earned a break, after playing all 40 minutes of last night’s nailbiter in Salt Lake City. The 83-82 Bruin victory completed a sweep of the high altitude schools and the first Pac-12 road sweep for the Bruins since Steve Alford took over. The thin air in Boulder and Salt Lake are notoriously draining, and it was thought that the Bruins, with their relatively shallow 8-man rotation, would struggle mightily. And on Saturday afternoon in Utah, struggle they did.
It took the incredible efforts of the Freshman phenom Lonzo Ball to push them to victory. Despite the exhausting environment, Lonzo played the whole game. He practically HAD TO, considering the Bruins never built any sort of big lead, and the other Guards were not shooting the lights out like they have in some of their previous games.
Lonzo put together another mind-blowing effort that has him heading the National Player of the Year lists. Lonzo scored 17 Points, including 3 3-pointers, he had his usual 8 Assists, he pulled down 6 Rebounds, and most impressively of all, he had 5 Steals. On a night where the TIRED Bruins’ Defense was severely lacking, allowing Utah to drive to the hoop at will and shoot 54% from the floor, Ball’s picks made the difference.
On the Offensive end, Lonzo picked up the slack for Isaac Hamilton, who went 3-for-10. Obviously, Hamilton has not completely emerged from his recent shooting slump. Fellow Guard Aaron Holiday went 1-for-6 from Downtown, way below his stellar season average, but with 3 Steals and 14 Points, he more than made up for it. Holiday was HUGE when the Bruins needed it most in the 2nd Half, when Utah was threatening to take control of the game, and it was Holiday’s sole MADE Three that gave the Bruins their final lead, with under 2 minutes to go.
Bryce Alford (15 Points) and T.J. Leaf (12 Points, 10 Rebounds) were also indispensable to UCLA moving to 18-1 with their 5th win in a row. Even more clutch was Thomas Welsh, who got his keen shooting eye back, going 6-for-7 from the field, and… with one second left in the game and the Bruins up by only 1 Point, hit 2 straight Free Throws to bump the lead to 3. Welsh has miraculously NOT MISSED a single Free Throw all season long, and the extra pressure of the situation did not make him crack. The ones who cracked were the Utes, when, right after Welsh made it a 3-Point lead, heaved the ball BEYOND the 3-point line, forcing them to futilely take a meaningless 2-point shot instead of a potential game-tying 3-Point shot. How fricking stupid can you be??
That was a gift from the Utah brain trust, but the Bruin brain trust was very effective in forcing Utah into that situation in the first place. When Utah was down by 1 with 12 seconds left, UCLA was smart to use their “fouls to give” to force Utah to start their last chance with only 5 seconds left. Then the Bruins smothered Kyle Kuzma, who hurriedly forced up a brick. Welsh grabbed the carom, sank his 2 Free Throws, and Utah mentally choked away their chance to force Overtime, allowing Ball and the Bruins to take a long, leisurely, well-deserved nap.
Speaking of naps, Pete the Cheat Carroll can start his long off-season hibernation now, as his Seattle Seahawks were obliterated by Atlanta 36-20 on Saturday afternoon. It was awesome, SIMULTANEOUSLY watching the Bruins endure and overcome adversity, while Carroll’s team imploded, blowing an early lead, losing their cool and their poise, and ultimately, their whole season. After those two games, former Bruin Footballer Matt Slater and the Patriots held off ex-trojan Brian Cushing and the surprisingly “game” (J.J. Watt-less) Houston Texans to advance to the AFC Conference Title game.
Yes, I’m aware that the Texan roster includes a Bruin (Xavier Fila-Sulo) and that the Seahawks have great Bruin star Cassius Marsh. But sometimes when Bruins face Bruins, or when Bruins play for SCumbags, it’s ok to savor a game that includes some Bruin heartache. For truly trojan-hating Bruin fans, sometimes there are emotional conflicts. Case in point: This coming week, u$c plays Arizona in Basketball. While it might benefit UCLA in the conference standings for Arizona to lose, I will NOT EVEN CONSIDER rooting for troy. Let the bastards lose, and let UCLA take care of Arizona and the standings themselves. We don’t need THAT kind of help.