Tony Parker parks the Bruins in the Sweet 16 — Tony touches ’em all, with a career-high 28 Points, plus 12 Rebounds and 3 Blocks, as UCLA scores 50 Points in the Paint to whip UAB 92-75, and to prove once again the Bruins are better when they go inside
Sure Bryce Alford can stroke it from outside. And on occasion, so can Norman Powell, Isaac Hamilton, and even Kevon Looney and Gyorgy Goloman. But UCLA is clearly at its best when they pound the ball inside as a first priority, and dominate the paint. And that’s exactly the strategy Coach Steve Alford dialed up against the UAB Blazers, and it worked perfectly.
Tony Parker was coming off a horrendous game against SMU, so Alford wanted to get him going today, So Bryce Alford and company kept feeding the beast, to the tune of NINETEEN first half points for Parker. The Bruins slowly worked the margin up, despite a plethora of made three-pointers by the Blazers, which were allowed by slow close-outs by the Bruins on Defense. But the UCLA Offense was clicking, with Parker on the inside, Alford on the outside, Looney (and Thomas Welsh) on the Offensive Boards, and Hamilton driving to the hoop.
The Bruins built a 14-point lead early in the second half, and were ahead the rest of the way. One Blazer run cut it to 6, but the Bruins quickly bumped it back up to double-figures, then won going away.
This easy victory puts the Bruins in the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row under Steve Alford. We don’t hang Sweet 16 banners in Pauley Pavilion, but under this year’s circumstances (like losing three guys from the planned preseason roster), making it to the Sweet 16 is definitely reason to celebrate.