A Holiday Classic: Double-A and Holiday Force team from Bay to Altar ways, with 40-14 spurt and 97-63 spanking
A couple of losses has apparently made the Bruins start practicing more Religiously. At least it LOOKS like they’ve been working harder and getting better-prepared. On Saturday afternoon, UCLA completed a weekend sweep of the Bay Area schools with a crushing 34-point victory over Stanford.
Coming off a 15-point win over Cal on Thursday night, the Bruins were trying to avoid the “second-game letdown” that they have seen a few times this year. While they have been unbeatable with several days of rest and preparation, they have been vulnerable with the 2-day turnaround. But on Saturday, they started pulling away late in the 1st half, and just kept on going in the 2nd.
Behind the leadership of Darren Collison, the athleticism of Jrue Holiday, and the muscle and tenacity of Alfred Aboya, UCLA went on a 19-0 run after halftime that turned the game into a rout. All the Freshmen got in — and contributed — in a blowout that reminded the Pac-10 who the 3-time defending Champs are. The win also kept the Bruins in a tie with Washington for the current lead in the Conference.
Aboya tallied 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, while his Defense kept Stanford out of the paint. The Pauley Pavilion crowd (okay, just the student section) was actually chanting his name after one particularly gutsy extra-effort play. Darren Collison also got the crowd going, with a flat-out, face-first dive for a loose ball.
It was that tenacity on Defense that kept the lead growing. The turnovers turned into fast break baskets. You don’t need a full-court press to create a running game — Steals and long rebounds also lend themselves to a quick transition game.
Even if the Bruin Defense hadn’t been as solid as it was, the Bruins would have been okay on this day, because they were on collective FIRE from Downtown. Six different guys hit shots from behind the arc, with Nikola Dragovic hitting 3, Michael Roll going 3-for-3, and Jrue Holiday hitting 2. Josh Shipp nailed one, and even James Keefe and Darren Collison (!!) hit 1 each.
The Bruins went 11-for-15 from three-point land, thanks in part to the playmaking ability of Collison and Holiday. Holiday is getting better and better. Jrue got 15 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals, in possibly his best all-around performance yet. Is it absurd to think that if Collison had gone Pro last year, then Holiday would be going Pro THIS year? He would probably be a Freshman running the Offense of a Top 20 team, recording 15, 5, and 5 a game. He might just average that WITH Darren still in charge, for the rest of the year. But there’s certainly a better chance of HIM staying than there was with Kevin Love. Hopefully, Demar Derozan will depart, but Holiday will stay, and be the best Player in the Conference (give or take a Washington Guard or two).
But why think about next year when this Pac-10 season is only half-over? And the biggest game of the year is coming up this week, as the trojans come into Pauley looking for revenge for their defeat at the hands of the Bruins at the Galen Center last month. At least the Bruins seem to be peaking at the right time to Beat SC.