UCLA Basketball: The Importance of Ike Anigbogu

Jan 19, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Ike Anigbogu (13) grabs a rebound against the Arizona State Sun Devils as guard Lonzo Ball (2) looks on in the first half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 19, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Ike Anigbogu (13) grabs a rebound against the Arizona State Sun Devils as guard Lonzo Ball (2) looks on in the first half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /
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The UCLA Basketball team has a third freshman that is making an impact on the team as Ike Anigbogu is bringing much needed defense to the Bruins.

If you saw the #10 UCLA Basketball team take down the #5 Oregon Ducks on Thursday, then you saw an epic comeback by the Bruins in which they erased a 19-point first half deficit and eventually win 82-79.

You also probably remember Lonzo Ball hitting a long three-pointer late in the game to extend UCLA’s lead and which got Pauley Pavilion off of their feet. You probably also remember Aaron Holiday making big shots down the stretch and help seal the win with a few key free throws.

But do you remember the effort freshman Ike Anigbogu put up?

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Sometimes, the big guys get lost in the shuffle, especially with the front court players being very productive with the ball in UCLA’s uptempo style. So if you were not paying attention, you might have missed Anigbogu’s best game of the season.

What was surprising about UCLA’s win was not that they came back from 19 down behind their epic offense, but their defense — which has been very inconsistent this season — really stepped up to limit Oregon in the second half.

The Ducks only made 10-of-30 shots after the break and it was because the Bruins made an effort to get in passing lanes, get in the face of their opponents and defend the rim.

That last part was essential because of Anigbogu’s role. As the best defensive presence down low, he made it a priority to give the Ducks hell underneath by deterring and even stopping Oregon when they came into the lane.

Anigbogu finished the night 9 points, 7 rebounds (4 offensive) and 3 blocks. Not only was he able to tip-back or throw down the ball when he was around the rim on offense, but on defense he was  one of the bigger factors to UCLA’s production.

Anigbogu might be overshadowed by Ball and TJ Leaf, but his talents are just as important to the Bruins’ success, especially in this late part of the regular season. He can bring offense, but he is going to take the Bruins far if he can be their defensive threat in the lane.

UCLA has six games left with a trip to Arizona being the most imperative to their success. But aside from a road trip to Tucson and Tempe, UCLA has four games at home to finish the regular season.

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If Anigbogu can continue to have the type of game he had against Oregon, with the help of his teammates, the Bruins can shut down anyone in the conference and possibly get that Pac-12 title. But one step at a time. First go out and beat Oregon State first. Go Bruins! Go Ike!