It wasn’t quite as overwhelming a blowout as the game against the UC Davis Aggies was, but UCLA’s Bruins were quite dominant, particularly in the beginning of the second half, in their disposal of another fellow University of California school, UC Irvine, by a score of 89-50 at the Sports Arena.
It was the Bruins’ fourth win in a row after a 2-5 start, and lifted their record above .500 for the first time this season at 6-5.
“Guys are really coming together,” coach Ben Howland commented after the game
Another smallish crowd of 4,090 saw five Bruins score in double figures against the Anteaters, led by freshman guard Norman Powell’s 19 points, which included four three-points baskets made out of six attempts as well as getting seven rebounds. Powell’s 17 rebounds in the last two games are five more than the total number of boards he had grabbed in his previous nine games. “Norman is getting better and better…that’s what we expected of him,” Howland said.
As the 19 points were a career-high, if Powell’s performance wasn’t a coming out party, then I don’t know what is.
Tyler Lamb joined Powell in coming out as someone to be reckoned with, achieving career highs of his own with 17 points and four steals.
UCLA used a run, which featured an alley-oop dunk by Powell, to open their lead over UC Irvine to as much as 34 points in the game’s second 20 minutes to put away the Anteaters, a mid-major team from the Big West conference that’s struggling with a record of 2-9, with one of those two wins coming against tiny Concordia, a school that’s not even in the NCAA as they are an NAIA institution.
Among the other three Bruins scoring in double figures for the game were Lazeric Jones, who tallied 11 points and six assists and is a big reason why UCLA hasn’t lost since Reeves Nelson was dismissed from the team, averaging 16.3 points per game over the last four contests.
Forwards David Wear and Joshua Smith also got into the double-digit column, Wear with 12 points and nine rebounds and Smith matching Wear’s 12 points with seven rebounds of his own, outdoing himself in minutes played with 22 in the process. David’s twin brother, Travis, returned from a foot infection to score six points and grab six boards.
Granted, as far as talent level these four opponents that UCLA has beaten aren’t exactly Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and the current top-ranked team, Syracuse, but after that awful start, any win this team can get is good – very good – and will bode well when conference play starts at the end of next week.
Meanwhile, on the women’s side…
After being dealt with by #6 Tennessee, Cori Close’s team traveled to Philadelphia, PA, where they were beaten by Temple, 59-53, to see their record fall to 5-5.
The Bruins got no closer than 54-51 late in the second half as the Owls finished them off at the end.
Guard Thea Lemberger led the UCLA women with 13 points, with Markel Walker adding 10 points and eight rebounds in her homecoming. These Lady Bruins will stay in Philly, probably running the steps of that city’s Museum of Art – the “Rocky” steps – and play St. Joseph’s on Thursday.
NEXT UP FOR MEN’S HOOPS: Richmond Spiders, Friday, December 23, Sports Arena, 7:30 p.m.
A mid-major team that’s constantly in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen last year, these Spiders will be a tougher challenge for the Bruins than their previous opponents that they’ve played as they return two starters. Richmond is 7-5 on the season, beating Old Dominion earlier this week.