The UCLA Bruins (8-0) basketball team got the closest they could this season to a challenge. They beat the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (3-3) 89-76, but not without a first-half fight. Defense was a bit of an issue for the Bruins but the overall fire power and depth keep UCLA ahead of the game.
UC Santa Barbara’s 6’7”, 240 lbs. center Alan Williams was the main culprit giving UCLA fits throughout the contest. All game long, he was clearing Bruins out of the lane and came out with 23 points and 8 rebounds. It was only when he was on the bench that the Bruins could do anything in the first half. Williams got a lot of help from Gaucho guard Michael Bryson who added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
It was tied 42-42 at halftime and was essentially a call for the Bruins to step up their game. A lot has been said about their defense, or lack there of. The Bruins did not have horrible defense, but it was not great either. The Bruins, as a group, were able to keep their opponents at bay. Over and over, UCLA would limit the chances of UCSB, but the thing that would kill them was the athleticism of a specimen like Williams when he attacked the basket. The Bruins so far have decent team defense, but no individual on-ball defender.
The second half was a different story. The game was picked up and put on the shoulders of Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson. Adams had another subtle 22 points for the Bruins as he had one of the toughest offensive games of the season. He was slowed and pressured in the first half, but managed to find the basket more often than not in the second.
Anderson is the guy that has been getting close to the edge of triple-doubles in several of UCLA’s games this season, being successful in achieving that feat on November 22 against Morehead State. Tonight, he was not too far off as he totaled 22 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of this Bruins team was how sophomore center Tony Parker played in the second. After limited minutes in the first for picking up two fouls against UCSB’s Williams, Parker stepped up his game on both sides of the floor to not only lead an offensive charge with seven minutes left in the game but halted the progression of Williams.
UCLA get another tough battle this weekend as they travel to Missouri for a 12:30pm game against the Tigers.