¡Viva Las Vegas! Loosely translated, “Long live, Vegas”. The UCLA Bruins did just that as they started 7-0 under head coach Steve Alford by beating the Northwestern Wildcats 95-79 in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Long live, the Bruins! For UCLA, it was their second straight win in two days as they rolled in Southern Nevada with some “Instant Offense”.
You do not have to worry about the Bruins starting slow, they have such a spark that they explode onto the game. Not too mention that UCLA was hitting shots from ever corner of the floor. UCLA is averaging 90.2 points per game, the tenth best in the country. In the country. Sorry for the repetition, it just needed to be emphasized.
The Bruins game was separated into two parts: phenomenal offense and “hey, look at our offense” defense. It was just that, the Bruins played strong, up-tempo, team basketball. In a way, they did not have to play defense. But when they tried to, there was much to be desired.
The first half was just insane in regards to scoring offense. It was aided by the Bruins efficient passing game, which shows how very unselfish this team is. Kyle “Instant Offense”Anderson, nearly had a double-double. Bryce Alford hit three of three from three-point county. Travis Wear finished strong on a alley-oop from Anderson. Northwestern could stop none of it. The second half simulated the first as the offensive show continued.
Bryce Alford, Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine all finished the game with 18 points. Kyle Anderson had 16 of his own, 9 rebounds, 9 assists and the Bruin’s only block. The Bruins, as a team, shot 63.6%. You want to know what their stats for three pointers? The Bruins were 81.3% on 13 of 16 three-pointers. Let that one sink in for a second as we continue on.
The positives are that the Bruins have good transition defense. A quick steal or even a poke of the ball got it into the open, which is all the Bruins needed to translate it into points. The Bruins had 10 steals as a team. Their quickness allows them to get in when the opposition is unprepared.
The negatives are that UCLA is not physically in the face of their opponents. UCLA is playing a lot of zone defense, which is good for cutting down lanes and generally disrupting the competition, but we often saw Northwestern get the extra pass for a shot in the corner or for a drive that blows by the UCLA defense. The Bruins do not have a lock-down defender, at least we have not seen the use for one, which may be a problem when UCLA faces stiffer competition. Still, they did limit the Wildcats to 46.0% shooting and whether that is due to the talent level of Northwestern or the UCLA defense, it will always help when you limit your opponent to making less than half the shots they take.