Dedicated to the HATRED of all things trOJan


Knee High After Skirting Disaster, Twice — UCLA survives a Thomas Welsh knee sprain and a very slow start against lowly Cal, as the Bruins come back from 13 down and Welsh comes back from injury for a 70-57 victory;  Losing that game — or losing Welsh permanently — would have probably knocked UCLA out of NCAA Tour-Knee consideration

Do the Bruins play better when facing adversity and the expectations are low?  They beat Kentucky when few expected them to, they played great last week after falling way behind in Oregon and no one expected them to make a game of it, and on Thursday night in Pauley, down by double-digits when Star Center and Senior Leader Thomas Welsh went down with what looked like a serious knee injury, they really stepped up.

The spurt that mostly occurred right after Welsh was helped to the locker room ended up as an 18-0 run against Cal, turning a 13-point deficit into a 5 point lead.  UCLA held Cal scoreless for over 6 minutes, and closed out the half, without Welsh, on a 24-4 blitz.

Cal snapped out of their funk in the second half, coming back to take the lead again, but the Bruins responded.  Led by Aaron Holiday (as usual) with 21 Points and 6 Assists, the Bruins slowly took control and got up by double digits in the last 5 minutes.  Freshman Chris Smith continued his three-game streak of adding more than he subtracts, and fellow Freshman Jaylen Hands also came through with some big shots, including a highlight reel dunk that was by far the play of the game.  Boosted emotionally and physically by the return of Welsh, the Bruins rolled to a 13-point triumph, 70-57.

Welsh is arguably the most indispensable player on the team.  You might insist that Holiday is, but Hands could probably fill in at Point Guard slightly better than any of the Bruins bigs could at Center.  So, if Welsh’s knee injury was severe, the season prospects would be bleak.  Also, Cal had lost 6 straight games, and was playing without their leading scorer, who was suspended.  So if the Bruins lost to Cal, at home, it would have been the proverbial “bad loss” that would have knocked them right off the Tournament bubble.  So the Bruins dodged two bullets tonight.  But there’s no time to celebrate.  Just a sigh of relief, and then, on to prepare for Stanford, who plays the Bruins in Pauley on Saturday.  The Trees beat UCLA in overtime earlier this month in Palo Alto, so it’s definitely no gimme.  A loss would be like a knee to the groin, as the Bruins are still totally in a position of knee-d.

I still have over a THOUSAND more photos of the UCLA Spirit Squad from this past Fall that I’m trying to edit and post.  If you remember, I was working on a “real job” for a couple of those months, so I fell way behind in my photographic duty to the squad.  So here are 44 more shots from the Venice Basketball event, with lots and lots more photos coming soon.

"SPRAIN OF TERROR" was published on January 26th, 2018 and is listed in Blue & Gold News, UCLA/usc/Cheerleader Photos.

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