The UCLA basketball team once again manages to lose a double-digit lead, only to pull out the win late on the game against Notre Dame. It was another heart attack that could have been avoided.
It was a night to remember and forget. The UCLA basketball team, which looked to revive their rivalry against Notre Dame, might have done just that, but they could have avoided the heart attack that was the last seven minutes of the game.
Let us quickly break this down to the only statistic that matters: UCLA won the game. The Bruins now have a 7-2 record with four games left in their non-conference schedule. Aces.
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Now let us break down the game to show just how UCLA continues to manage games: UCLA had a double-digit lead, they blew that lead, their opponent (in this case Notre Dame) comes back to take the lead, and the Bruins have to put in extra effort late in the game to get the win.
Out of breath already?
UCLA had dominated Notre Dame late in the first half, shutting them down in the last six minutes. The Bruins went into the break with a 31-20 lead. But as the Steve Alford script dictates, the Bruins let up off the gas (again) and they eased up on their defensive pressure and could not put the ball in the basket for the first ten minutes of the second half.
Although it seemed to be an epidemic as the Fighting Irish couldn’t hit anything in this game either. Collectively, both teams shot under 37% for the game, with UCLA only able to hit 34.3% of their shots.
Still, there was enough in the tank for Notre Dame to creep back in the game as they went on a outscore the Bruins 42-34 in the second half. But it was not enough. Despite taking the lead with 6:50 left in the game, the Bruins had some fight, fight, fight in them. With just over two minutes left in the game, Prince Ali nailed two free throws to tie the game at 62.
There would only be one more made shot in the game after that and it came with some theatrics.
With less than half a minute left, Notre Dame had the ball. Prentiss Hubb drove to the rim to try and lay-in the game leading basket, only to be rejected by Jalen Hill in the paint. That sparked a fast break with 8 seconds left in the game. From the top of the key, Kris Wilkes positioned himself for a final shot. He nailed it. Pauley Pavilion lit up like a Christmas tree and the Bruins had the 65-62 lead.
UCLA vs. Notre Dame Game Stats
- UCLA: FG – 24/70 (34.2%) | 3FG – 9/25 (36.0%) | Rebs – 53 | Ast – 17 | TOs – 12
- Kris Wilkes – 14 pts, 8 rebs | Jaylen Hands – 12 pts, 11 asts
- ND: FG – 24/66 (36.4%) | 3FG – 8/25 (32.0%) | Rebs – 40 | Ast – 16 | TOs – 9
- Rex Pflueger – 14 pts, 6 rebs | John Mooney – 12 pts, 11 rebs
Wilkes, who had gone back to the locker room earlier in the half because of cramps, was unable to celebrate his eventual game-winning basket with the rest of the UCLA fans as he was on the floor in pain, apparently suffering from more cramping. He was done, but so was the damage as Notre Dame failed to retaliate as they heaved up an unsuccessful shot with 0.9 seconds left in the game. The Bruins win and increase their record to 7-2.
Credit also has to be given to Jaylen Hands who carried the Bruins in the second half. Not only did he keep them in the game with a second-half scoring effort, but he got his second consecutive double-double with 12 points and 11 assists. In the last four games, Hands has had 4 total assists, averaging 10.3 in that span.
It was not pretty, but what has this season. At least now, the Brunis have some momentum heading into a tough three-game stretch which includes games at Cincinnati and against Ohio State in New Orleans. Godspeed.