UCLA Basketball: Bruins bounce back behind big game from Prince Ali


The UCLA basketball team returned home and recaptured their flow as they took down Hawaii after a disastrous Thanksgiving Las Vegas trip.

The UCLA basketball team had a bad Thanksgiving. They went to Sin City to have some fun but came back broke after consecutive beatdowns at the hands of Michigan State and North Carolina. The loss resulted in them plummeting in the AP Top 25 and making an initial appearance in the NCAA Net Rankings at 86th in the nation. It was a week to forget.

Luckily, the Bruins are back in Westwood for a four-game homestand which started off strong with a victory over Hawaii. It was not a huge statement, but just like Stella, the Bruins got their groove back.

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This was a better overall effort (despite coming against a lesser opponent) than what the Bruins put forth in Vegas. UCLA came out of the gate hot as they quickly jumped out to an 18-5 lead which set the tone for the rest of the game. That was sparked by three quick baskets from Prince Ali from behind the arc, who had himself a game.

Ali, who has been quiet in the Bruins’ first six games, went off for a career-high 23 points. Ali made all six of his shots in the first half and did not miss until 12:47 was remaining in the game, going 8/8 from the field at that point. The upperclassman finished the game going 9/11 (5/6 three-point shots). He also added in 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and an assist.

Overall, the Bruins had a better grasp on this game, especially with Jaylen Hands having more control over the situation. Though he only scored four points, he gave a very Lonzo Ball effort (who was in the crowd with other former Bruins TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, and Aaron Holiday) with 11 assists. On top of that, he added 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and only 2 turnovers.

The big men also got back in the game, especially Moses Brown who was shut down in Las Vegas. Against Hawaii, he had 11 points and 7 rebounds. Kris Wilkes also added in 16 points to help the Bruins power past the Warriors.

The defense was sustainable as well as UCLA was a lot more active in that facet of the game, especially in the first half. UCLA limited Hawaii to 27.3% shooting before halftime.

Game Stats

  • UCLA: FG – 31/63 (49.2%) | 3FG – 10/20 (50.0%) | Rebs – 43 | Ast – 16 | Turnovers – 8
  • Prince Ali – 23 pts, 5 rebs | Kris Wilkes – 16 pts | Moses Brown – 11 pts, 7 rebs
  • Hawaii: FG – 23/64 (35.9%) | 3FG – 9/31 (29.0%) | Rebs – 35 | Ast – 12 | Turnovers – 11
  • Jack Purchase – 10 pts | Brocke Stepteau – 10 pts | Sheriff Drammeh – 7 pts, 7 rebs

The one concern in this game was UCLA’s inability to keep their foot on the gas in the second half. The Bruins have been prone to taking it is easy after the break when they have a sizeable lead, which often results in teams making small runs to get back in the game. With just over 13 minutes left in the game and UCLA up 62-35, the Warriors went on a 9-point run and disallowed a Bruin basket for almost three minutes. Luckily, the Bruins kicked it back into gear, especially on defense as they did not allow a Hawaii basket in the final five minutes.

It was not a quality win, but it is a start as the Bruins look to get organized going into a tough stretch of their schedule. On Sunday, the Bruins take on Loyola Marymount who are 7-0 right now and ranked 11th in the NCAA Net Rankings.

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UCLA then welcomes Notre Dame and Belmont before they head out to face Cincinnati in the second of a home-and-home series and Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic. If UCLA wants to change the narrative of what kind of team they are, now is the time to do it.