Rushed Reaction: #4 UCLA 76 #13 Tulsa 59Posted by Andrew Murawa on March 22nd, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- UCLA Defense. Let’s face it, the star of the show in most UCLA games is going to be the Bruins’ highly efficient offense, currently ranked 13th in the nation. Future pros abound and even those without professional futures are above-average offensive players. But for this team to make a run in this Tournament, they need to be able to improve upon what was a defensive slide late in the regular season. Last week in the Pac-12 Tournament, they took the first steps down that path, and they continued that today. They focused in on Tulsa’s leading scorer and rebounder James Woodard, making sure that he wouldn’t beat them, and in the deciding second half, they limited him to a single point. Down the stretch, after the Golden Hurricane had pulled to within five points, the Bruins held them to just two points over the next seven possessions and forced three turnovers along the way. The Bruins’ offense is a given; but when they turn up the defense is when they can become special.
- Norman Powell. Of all the talented UCLA guards this season, it seems Powell – the team’s third starting guard – has flown under the radar somehow. Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are all-conference types, Zach LaVine earned plenty of buzz with his phenomenal start to the season; and of course, Bryce Alford has been the subject of plenty of talk. But Powell has been rock solid all year. Maybe the team’s best perimeter defender, he’s a whirlwind in transition and a more-than-capable performer in the half-court offense. And tonight, down the stretch, he was Adams’ running mate, regularly making big-time plays on the way to transition hoops. Most spectacularly, with just over four minutes left and UCLA starting to run away, Powell ran under a long Tulsa pass in the backcourt, like a free safety tracking an errant bomb, corralled the ball, tip-toed along the baseline to remain in bounds, then turned, attacked the rim and finished with the hoop and the harm to put a nail in Tulsa’s coffin. All told, UCLA outscored Tulsa 21-5 on points off of turnovers, a big part of which came off of plays by Powell and Adams.
- Tulsa’s Length. The biggest problem UCLA had with Tulsa was up front, where a handful of long, lean and athletic forwards were able to take the battle on the glass to the Bruins and score in and around the paint. D’Andre Wright was the best interior player on the court, wiggling free in the paint 18 points on 10 field goal attempts. But he wasn’t the only one: Rashad Smith had nine points in 29 minutes and did a good job in helping to keep Anderson in check.
Star of the Game. Jordan Adams, UCLA. On a night where Kyle Anderson wasn’t always at his best (my goodness, how great it must be to go for eight points, six boards, six dimes, four steals and two blocks on a night when you’re a little off), Adams was the spark for the Bruins. He had eight points early in the second half as the Bruins pulled away, was the team’s most adamant rebounder and was consistently making things uncomfortable for the Tulsa ballhandlers. Then, with 9:35 remaining in the second half and the Bruins up 14, Steve Alford pulled him for just a few minutes to get a brief rest, and by the time he came back in, Tulsa was within seven. Once back in, he began to immediately make plays again: a dime to Tony Parker, a three, a steal that lead to a breakaway layup, poking the ball loose on defense for another teammate to grab. By the time he was taken back out, UCLA had completed a 17-4 run to finally put the game away for good and Adams wound up with 21 points, eight boards, four assists and two steals.
Sights & Sounds. First UCLA Home Game of the Year. Pauley Pavilion was abnormally quiet this season, even for Pauley Pavilion. Last weekend the Pac-12 Tournament was dominated by Arizona fans. But today, at San Diego State’s Viejas Arena, Bruin fans showed up in numbers – and volume – that hasn’t been seen all season. Maybe it was their inspired play last week in Las Vegas; maybe it was just the fact that it was the NCAA Tournament; but for whatever the reason, it was a good sign that UCLA fans maybe could actually support their basketball program again.
Wildcard. Kyle Anderson Turnovers. Slo-Mo was whistled for three travels and a carry tonight and each of those calls was questionable at best. He’s so unorthodox with his herky-jerky movements and long gait that sometimes it seems like officials who aren’t used to calling his games will make calls like this simply when they expect a travel to have occurred.
What’s Next? UCLA will play Stephen F. Austin on Sunday at 4:10 PM as the undercard on a double-header that will also feature Arizona vs. Gonzaga. For Tulsa, the building of a program under Danny Manning continues, with everybody who played today (except senior wing Tim Peete) eligible to return next season for the Golden Hurricane.