The Bruins’ morphin’ releases endorphins — Led by superhero Norman Powell and his sidekicks Tony Parker and Isaac Hamilton, UCLA morphs into a dominant team, and eradicates the supervillian Huskies 88-66, inhibiting the transmission of pain signals from the 2-game losing streak
Ever heard of “Scrubbing Bubbles?” Well, on Wednesday night, UCLA — who is on the bubble for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament, polished up their bubble résumé a tiny bit, by pounding the Dawgs, 88-66. This game was NEVER in doubt, as the Bruins exploded out of the gate with a 19-5 blitz, then led by as many as 31 before cruising home with a 22-point victory.
At the start, it was Tony Parker on fire, as he came back from one of his worst weeks in recent memory, to thoroughly dominate the paint against the Huskies. It seemed like UCLA went inside to him almost every time down the floor, and with the excellent position he was getting, he was able to power his way to the hoop for several early buckets. Parker finished with 20 points, but on this night, that was not enough to garner high-scorer honors. That title belonged to Norman Powell, who was also able to exploit the Huskies’ suspect interior defense, to get to the hoop for repeated inside scores. Powell finished with 24 points, including one power dunk and an even better dunk off an alley-ooo pass from Bryce Alford. Bryce scored only 7 points on 2-for-6 shooting, but he did have 7 Assists, and once again, the Bruins look like a more effective team when Bryce passes more than he shoots.
Usually, 7 Assists would lead the team, but again, this was not a typical Bruin game. Since they played more TEAM ball, the Assists were plentiful, and it was Isaac Hamilton who dished out TEN dimes! I-Ham also added 16 points, for a rare double-double. When Hamilton plays up to his potential like this, the Bruins take a huge leap in effectiveness and competitiveness. So maybe it isn’t so much about Bryce shooting less per se — It’s more about when his teammates are getting open and hitting shots so that Bryce doesn’t feel the need to force things on offense. Regardless, this was one of the Bruins’ best efforts of the season, on both ends of the court.
The Bruins’ changing defenses confused and stymied Washington all night long, preventing UW from ever making a serious run. Freshman phenom Kevon Looney — who was silent offensively until the second half — had 2 Steals and 2 Blocks on Defense, and Hamilton added 3 Steals and a Block. Off the bench, Thomas Welsh had a Steal and a Block, and Gyorgy Goloman had a Block, as the Bruins stifled Washington even with the reserves on the court. Goloman had several impressive plays — and 6 points — as he continues to improve, and prove that he will be a major contributor in years to come.
The Bruins have two more regular season games (WSU & u$c) both at home, before going to Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament. Despite coming off a 2-game losing streak, this big win could give them momentum to win two more potentially easy ones, then make some noise in Nevada, giving them a decent shot to be selected into March Madness.
Speaking of madness, it’s been so long, that I forgot how madly in love with the UCLA Spirit Squad I am. It was so nice to cross paths with these lovely students again — They are always so nice to me. With specific thanks to Nicole, Irazmi, and Kyle, and a very special thanks to Jane, for going out of their way to make me and my guest feel welcome at Pauley.
If you are a fan of the Spirit Squad, you should come to their annual Charity Fundraising Reception this Saturday afternoon at Pauley. Many players from the Football and Basketball teams will be there, including Myles Jack and Josh Rosen, as well as all the Cheerleaders, and they will all be mingling, so you can meet them and talk to them. It is an awesome event, with great gourmet food and hosted bar, all included with your mostly tax-deductible admission. There are also raffles and a silent auction with amazing prizes to be won. I’ve been to the last few of these events and have always had a fantastic, fun time.
Here are 56 more photos from the game on Wednesday night, including dozens of the Cheerleaders who will populate this reception and would love for you to come down and meet them in person. Don’t be intimidated — even though they are beautiful and super-intelligent, they are also the nicest, sweetest, most humble people you could ever hope to meet, and at this event, they are completely approachable and accessible. Please come support this ultra-worthy cause.