Leaf through it — Just a re-binder that UCLA has not one but TWO Freshman Phenoms: T.J. Leaf tallies 32 Points and 14 Rebounds as UCLA beats the sheet out of Washington State 95-79 to end a 3-game losing streak in the Palouse
The depressing, demoralizing, and inexplicable UCLA 2-game losing streak has come to an end, with a convincing 95-79 Bruin victory over the Cougars. Admittedly, beating lowly WSU is not exactly a STATEMENT that UCLA is “back,” but even against a weak team, this venue is not an easy place to play, as evidenced by UCLA’s recent 0-and-3 record up there over the last few years. This was not UCLA’s best performance of the year, but it WAS T.J. Leaf’s best. Leaf scored 32, pulled down 14 caroms, dished out 3 Assists, and even snagged 1 Steal. Whenever the Bruins were losing momentum, they called a play for Leaf, and he delivered. T.J. missed only 4 out of his 18 Field Goal Attempts.
Of course you can’t beat any Pac-12 team with only one guy playing well, so obviously, Leaf had help. A lot of it came from Leaf’s fellow Frosh Lonzo Ball, who scored 14, adding 7 Assists and 7 Boards. But possibly his most important stat was his FIVE Steals. Those thefts spurred an improved Defense, and led to a 22-6 edge in Points Off Turnovers.
In addition to the Freshmen, Thomas Welsh played a crucial role in the victory. With fellow big man Ike Anigbogu out with a minor knee injury, the pressure was on Welsh, who is not as proficient on the Defensive end as Ike is. And that was apparent early, as the WSU Center was getting the ball in the paint and taking advantage of Welsh. But Welsh MORE than made up for it on the Offensive end, dropping 17 Points on 8-for-10 shooting.
The Bruins also got help off the bench, as Aaron Holiday contributed 13 Points and 5 Assists. Thank goodness for Holiday, because Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford are still not back to the form they showed early in the season. Alford is in the deeper funk at the moment, now 1-for-13 in his last 2 games.
UCLA ground out a 10-point lead at Halftime, but WSU hit 3 straight 3’s after the break, making it a 1-possession game. UCLA then methodically took control, building the lead up to double-digits, and had the game in hand in the final four minutes. The Bruins’ uncharacteristically poor three-point shooting (3-for-16, 18.8%) kept this game from being the total blowout that it should have been… ON (looseleaf) PAPER.
[And for those of you who happen to lean left, yes, when I wrote that UCLA “beat the sheet” out of WSU, I figured that your reaction was that you wished someone would “beat the (white) sheet” out of Steve Bannon and company. OMFG!]