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Hands free?  Ali! — UCLA, playing without injured Starting Point Guard Jaylen Hands, still brushes off the UCI Anteaters 87-63, thanks to a career-high 21 Points from Prince Ali, who started in place of Hands

It’s never easy to play a game when your floor leader is missing.  The Bruins started their game against Irvine on Sunday with Starting Point Guard Jaylen Hands in street clothes and a walking boot.  Apparently, the Freshman phenom rolled an ankle, so Prince Ali was inserted into the starting line-up.  Aaron Holiday ran the Offense as the Point Guard in Hands’ place, while Ali started at Shooting Guard, and Prince made the most of it.

Not only did Ali start the game with a 4-point play, he went on to lead all scorers with 21.  When the Anteaters fouled him on a 3-point shot at the very beginning of the game, it was an omen.  If a team makes that Cardinal Sin once, it’s just a fluke.  If they do it twice, it’s a sad coincidence.  But when they do it THREE times, it’s a sign of BAD COACHING, and bad discipline.  UCLA is lucky that on a day when they were without their floor general, and without their shooting touch early, they had an opponent the level of UC Irvine.

The start of the game was pretty even until a 13-0 run gave the Bruins a cushion.  But at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second, Irvine made a run of their own.  It was only a 2-point lead in the second half when the Bruins finally got it going.  A 10-0 spurt put the Anteaters away, and it was never close after that.

UCI shot 41% from 3, as UCLA’s perimeter Defense continues to struggle.  However, the Anteaters were only 12-for-40 (30%) from INSIDE the arc.  The Bruins shut down the Irvine interior offense, and that was the difference in the game.

All 5 Bruin starters scored in Double Figures, with Aaron Holiday tallying 16 (and 7 Assists), Kris Wilkes 14, Gyorgy Goloman 12, and Thomas Welsh with 13 (and 13 Rebounds).  Alex Olesinski and Chris Smith contributed off the bench as well.  AO had 5 Points and 6 Rebounds, and Smith added 4 Points.  The latter shows promise, but so far, a low BB IQ on the Offensive end.  He will have to mature quickly if the Bruins are to compete for a Conference Title this year.  Also necessary:  Health.  The Bruins have very little depth, and can’t survive injuries to the Top 6, once Pac-12 play starts.

Speaking of depth, the UCLA Spirit Squad goes about 39 deep, and the girls have depth individually, meaning that they are the opposite of shallow.  Just a portion of the squad was at Pauley on Sunday, and only 4 were near me on the concourse before the game, so I apologize for “featuring” such a tiny fraction of the squad today.  That being said, I think these close-ups today are gorgeous.  So please enjoy these 57 Game and Cheer photos from Sunday.

"LOOK MA, NO HANDS!" was published on November 27th, 2017 and is listed in Blue & Gold News, UCLA/usc/Cheerleader Photos, UCLA/usc/Sports Photos.

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