This UCLA team is what we should be seeing night in and night out.
This “contest” was anything but; as soon as UCLA took the floor, this game was over, with these Bruins dominating from the beginning, shooting out to a 18-5 lead within he first five minutes and never looking back.
This performance? A game in which UCLA finally scored 100 for the first time in three years? It was boring and dominant. It displayed the potential each UCLA basketball player has and it showed us that this isn’t the 2011-12 team that would’ve allowed this game to be competitive.
Don’t get too excited, though. James Madison, for all the seniors on this team, sucks pretty bad. They were praying for inside shots and when they found the ball in the lane, they took desperate attempts for easy buckets with the UCLA defense swarming as well as it did. Although JMU loves its perimeter game — they were nearly top-50 in the nation in three-point percentage — the Bruins would have none of it.
Still, this UCLA team proved it wouldn’t fall asleep again, on these James Madison Dukes. They were aggressive in attacking the basket, moved the ball around beautifully to find the open outside shot and hustled on the boards, earning 38 rebounds to JMU’s 25.
The star? Is there anyone else at this point?
Jordan Adams has proved to become an absolute gem. For his third-straight game, Adams earned over 20 points, nabbing 25 off of 7-for-10 shooting to go along with a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. In stark contrast to his excellent performance against UCI, Adams took to the perimeter for most of his points, going 4-for-6 from downtown while consistently knocking in contested shots that should never, ever go in. After about three games, it’s become clear to UCLA fans that Adams could very well be a one-and-done after this season given his three stellar performances, and given they were all achieved in such different ways.
The other surprising player, though, was guard Norman Powell, a player who had been railed on quite a bit for his sloppiness offensively while being praised for his athleticism.
Because while those hops were on display tonight, with a couple of magnificent dunks, Powell was smooth from downtown, shooting in rhythm to the tune of 80 percent from three, while also earning a few, tough jumpshots to boot. Overall, Powell nabbed 27 points off of 14 shots while also earning five assists. Powell wasn’t a playmaker in the passing sense, but he proved to be a tough cover for those large JMU guards.
The Wear twins? They were largely unnoticed, both earning limited minutes (19 and 25 for David and Travis, respectively) but neither looked terrible. In fact, both received limited minutes due to the emergence of Josh Smith in Tony Parker.
And boy, did Josh Smith emerge. The big guy down low — the one everyone harps about and everyone is rooting for while yelling at him in frustration — was active as hell against the Dukes, pounding his way inside and earning a few and-ones on the way. Overall, Smith took in 11 points off of four shots (making all of them) while having his way defensively with those much-less-daunting JMU bigs inside.
Tony Parker, too, had himself a game, almost similar to Josh Smith’s in style of play. Parker actively pushed himself into the paint, proving to UCLA fans that he might be more offensively polished than we all thought he would be, finishing around the basket, often with incredible amounts of contact. (His line: 12 points off of 5-for-7 shooting to go with five boards.)
Also of note: Though Kyle Anderson didn’t have a great night shooting wise (going an ugly 1-for-10 from the field), his passing skills were on display countless times, fitting dimes into tight spaces inside for his bigs to finish around the rim. And what he lacked in shooting, he made up for in activity, grabbing 12 boards while burying himself inside the paint on shots (while trying to lay them up while contested and in traffic, which contributed to his 1-for-10 performance).
Larry Drew II? Someone we’ve ridiculed quite a bit for almost no reason? He shut us up tonight, manning the UCLA offense beautifully, albeit subtly, with the quietest 12-assist performance you’ll see from a UCLA point guard. Scoring-wise, Drew II started off hot, but leveled off to create plays for his teammates on pick-and-rolls and kick-outs from penetration.
Overall, UCLA absolutely beat down these James Madison Dukes from the get-go and this is the kind of performance UCLA fans want to see every game.
And they’ll need to play at this level, too. The Bruins’ next match-up will be in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center as they take on Georgetown to begin the Legends Classic, which could see them take on the top team in the nation in the Indiana Hoosiers.