The UCLA basketball team showed the Pac-12 exactly what they are made of as they get an impassioned win in interim head coach Murry Bartow‘s first game in charge of the program as the Bruins brutalized the Stanford to start conference play.
Who knew the Bruins could put together 40 solid minutes on both sides of the court? UCLA basketball interim head coach Murry Bartow, that’s who! In his first game as the head of the program, the former assistant was able to light a fire under the Bruins as they get a huge win to start Pac-12 play.
It was the first game for UCLA since Steve Alford was fired. The Bruins were riding a four-game losing streak heading into conference play, but with the termination of their former coach, things changed in many different areas and it showed.
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The energy was different. There seemed to be a weight lifted off of their shoulders. The team appeared to be reborn. In essence, it was once again fun.
It was a steady climb in the first half as the Bruins paced themselves. There seemed to be a concerted effort to control the ball. Bartow said that he wanted to play faster, but the Bruins looked like they wanted to feel things out before that happened. In the last game, UCLA had 24 turnovers. In the first half, the Bruins only had 4.
Control was there, but then things really got going after the break.
UCLA outscored Stanford 54-38 after halftime and it was quite a relief, mostly because this is the type of basketball many knew that this team was capable of. I guess they just needed a shock to the system to get their mojo going.
On offense, the Bruins looked for the extra pass, they were able to get the ball in the paint, they were cognizant of their shot selections and just looked a lot more focused. There was still an element of selfishness from time to time, but it was not as prominent as it was under Alford.
- UCLA: FG – 35/68 (51.5%) | 3FG – 6/20 (30.0%) | Rebs – 46 | Ast – 16 | Turnovers – 12
- Moses Brown – 17 pts, 10 rebs | Kris Wilkes – 14 pts | Jaylen Hands – 16 pts, 8 asts
- Stanford: FG – 23/62 (37.1%) | 3FG – 8/22 (36.4%) | Rebs – 33 | Ast – 10 | Turnovers – 14
- KZ Okpala – 22 pts, 10 rebs | Cormac Ryan – 7 pts, 3 rebs
On defense, the Bruins did not have the statuesque 2-3 zone that was apparent under Alford. in this game, they were able to move around a bit more and rotate over to the open man. It was not perfect, as they still allowed a lot of unnecessary 3-point shots and could do with more hands in the air, but they did enough to limit the Cardinal to 37.1% shooting from the field.
What was also nice to see is Bartow showing some emotion. He had no qualms about ripping into the team when they made mistakes. He had no reservations about playing Kris Wilkes for only 5 minutes in the first half because he was not producing. He had no issue starting Chris Smith over others that might not have shown enough effort in practice.
It is only one game, but it spoke volumes. If the Bruins can continue playing with this type of effort, then maybe they can go out and get that Pac-12 regular season championship. But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Let us see how they do against Cal on Saturday.