Leaf No Doubt — T.J. Leaf scores 25 as the #5 Bruins dominate the paint and give the Devils a 87-75 haircut, making Bruin fans yearn optimistically for a victory in the upcoming game at #4 Arizona and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament
The UCLA Bruins are #5 in the Country. They are coming off a revenge-feuled 32-point annihilation of crosstown rival u$c. They have another imminent revenge showdown coming up on Saturday against the #4 U of A Wildcats. And on Thursday night, the Bruins had to face 14-point underdog Arizona State, IN Tempe. Can you say “trap game?” UCLA’s leader Lonzo Ball scored only 4 points, and Isaac Hamilton scored only 2. Sounds like the Bruins got caught in this trap, right? Well, not quite. Thanks to a massive height (and talent) advantage, UCLA controlled the interior, and outplayed the Sun Devils for an 87-75 victory.
T.J. Leaf led the Bruins with 25 points, mostly inside shots, and Ike Anigbogu added a career-high 12 points, all on inside shots, as UCLA made it 6 wins in a row and continued their undefeated February (the only Pac-12 team without a loss this month). Ike added 6 Boards, and Leaf had 9. Topping them were Ball and Thomas Welsh, who pulled down 11 each. as UCLA thoroughly controlled the glass for a 49-30 edge over ASU. Based on THAT stat alone, you would think that UCLA would have cruised to an easy victory. Not the case. ASU was actually within 1 point, at 50-49, early in the second half. That’s when the Bruins went on a run to get some breathing room, and they stayed in the driver’s seat the rest of the way.
Bryce Alford scored 15, and was instrumental early when the Bruins were not playing their best ball. But it was Aaron Holiday who came in off the bench and spurred the Bruins to excel and pull away. Holiday led the team with 4 three-pointers, on his way to 17 points. That included an amazing highlight-reel drive and score. Aaron and Ike weren’t the only reserves who contributed: Gyorgy Goloman made his presence felt as well. He scored only 4 points, but in his 11 minutes, he got a Rebound, an Assist, a Steal, and a Block in a nice all-around performance.
Despite not being at their peak motivationally, the Bruins still won by double-digits, on the road. Even if they were looking ahead, they still got the job done. Even with Ball not sinking more than 2 buckets, UCLA still had enough firepower to prevail. Even giving up FOURTEEN MADE Three-pointers, they played enough Defense inside to not succumb to the trap game. All this was enough to keep Bruin fans positive and hopeful that they can pull off the upset in Tucson on Saturday, and ride a wave of momentum into the post-season.
Speaking of positive and hopeful, here are the last 49 photos of the UCLA Spirit Squad from the trojan-killing last week.