In the Bruins first game of “The Big Dance”, several players showed up to eventually run off with a 76-59 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Kyle Anderson, the Bruins star point guard who stands 6’9 and is a near triple-double machine, was not one of those players — and that, is wonderful. You may ask, why is a struggling Kyle Anderson wonderful? Well, had the Bruins lost, it would not have been, but his struggle made UCLA’s win that much more impressive.
Though shooting an unusually low percentage in the first half, they stepped it up in the second to finish at 46 percent on 29 of 63 shooting all while holding Tulsa to a lowly 36 percent. The Golden Hurricane’s leading scorer was forward D’Andre Wright — he dropped 18. For the Bruins, the go-to-guy was Jordan Adams, who went off for 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and shot 7 of 12 from the floor on a career night.
Though strong defensively, the Bruins consistently allowed Tulsa to get buckets late in the shot clock. The upside? They forced them to hold the ball for nearly 30 seconds on a regular basis. The downside? Letting teams convert wont slide later in the tourney.
Another upside for the Bruins was the presence of their sole big man, Tony Parker. Parker threw down an emphatic dunk early on, and from there on out he was all hustle. Tip ins, hard fought rebounds, and a warning from the refs about his aggressiveness with his elbows pretty much summed up his intensity and tenacity — and UCLA is going to need that going forward. When Parker shows up, the Bruins propel themselves to another level. Parker also managed to keep himself out of foul trouble for the first night in quite some time, thus establishing his presence in the paint and backing UCLA’s defensive effort.
Other contributors included Travis Wear, Bryce Alford, and Norman Powell. Powell was an impact player for the night by forcing turnovers and finishing three-point-plays. With two slams that rocked the rim, Powell was able to set the tone and drive home the dagger that ended Tulsa’s season. The junior guard from San Diego logged 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Look for a preview soon as UCLA preps to take on Stephen F. Austin in the next round of the NCAA tournament.