UCLA Basketball: Aaron Holiday, Tony Parker Key In Bruin Win Over Pepperdine


UCLA came into their game against Pepperdine needing an impressive win to jumpstart their season, following a 1-1 start thanks to a shocking overtime loss to Monmouth and an up-and-down victory over Cal Poly.

The Bruins certainly started well as they jumped out to a 24-9 victory by the under-12 minute media timeout. This was largely due to great contributions from big men Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh.

Overall, Parker tallied 11 points and eight rebounds by halftime, as well as one block. However, that one rejection stat line does not do proper justice to the senior’s defensive impact, as he altered a multitude of Pepperdine shots throughout the first half.

Welsh made a good impact on help defense, and both of the bigs made life tough for the Waves on the inside.

Freshman Aaron Holiday also had a great first half, as he looked very comfortable within the Bruins offense. He compiled a team high 14 points on an efficient 4 of 6 shooting, and also added four assists in the half.

The Bruins did run into some turnover issues with roughly 10 minutes remaining in the first half, and the Waves went on a six-point run to end the first half, cutting the Bruins’ lead to 48-34 at the halftime buzzer.

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UCLA came out strong in the second half, leading 58-41 with 15:37 remaining when things began to unravel somewhat. Isaac Hamilton replaced Holiday in the lineup and the offense began to get out of sync at that point and turnovers began to plague the Bruins. Despite that, UCLA staved off the gritty waves and still led 66-52 with 11:32 left, after which Holiday came back into the game.

Holiday almost immediately applied a calming influence over the Bruins, and Pepperdine was kept at bay with him in the game. Then came a huge contribution from fellow freshman Prince Ali. The Bronx, NY native got to the free throw line twice within about a minute and a half, and converted a gigantic and-one in the process.

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That and-one gave UCLA a 17-point lead with 5:41 left and effectively ended any realistic opportunity the Waves had at a late comeback, aside from a major three-point barrage.

Pepperdine was never able to sustain a significant run for the rest of the game, and the Bruins left Pauley Pavilion with a relatively impressive 81-67 win, given UCLA’s difficult struggles in their first two games.

All that said, UCLA definitely needs to fix their turnover problems. They committed 17 today and that certainly needs to be the top priority from this point forward until it is resolved. Nonetheless, UCLA‘s offense is a sign of optimism, as they shot an even 50 percent against the Waves tonight.

Looking ahead, the Bruins next game is a tilt against UNLV in the first round of the Maui Invitational, and it will be intriguing to see if the Bruins can start a streak against markedly better competition in the coming days.