No. 2 UCLA men’s basketball looks to keep up pace against Michigan
dec 10, 2016 | matt cummings | the daily bruin | ARTICLE LINK
How does Steve Alford ensure his players aren’t swallowed up by the newfound hype around UCLA basketball?
“We schedule Michigan,” the coach said. “We know that if we believe all that stuff, and we don’t improve this week, we’ll get beat.”
The No. 2 Bruins (9-0), whose road win over then-No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday catapulted them near the top of the polls, are set to host the Wolverines (7-2) Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Pauley Pavilion which will reportedly include Vince Vaughn and Jessica Alba.
With its fast-paced offensive attack, UCLA will look to quickly get those fans going, but the Bruins will have to contend with a Michigan team that is on the opposite end of the pace-of-play spectrum.
Whereas UCLA ranks eighth in the nation in possessions per game, Michigan has played slower than all but four teams in the country, according to Sports Reference.
“That’s going to be what’s intriguing about the upcoming game – what tempo can be played?” Alford said.
Michigan has been an effective defensive team this year, and it’s well-positioned to take away two of UCLA’s top scoring tools: transition offense and 3-point shooting.
Not only do the Wolverines slow the game down when they have the ball, but they’re also elite at defending against opponents’ fast-break opportunities, allowing just 0.84 points per possession in transition, per Synergy Sports. And only eight teams in the nation allow fewer 3-point attempts than Michigan.
That’s not to say UCLA won’t be able to score, but the Bruins will have to focus on moving the ball as well as they have thus far this season.
“When we’ve struggled, the ball has stopped – and the guys are seeing that,” Alford said. “Regardless of whether it’s a slower tempo or a quick tempo, we want the ball moving. That was what was very impressive playing a team like Kentucky on their home floor. For 40 minutes, that ball moved.”
The Wolverines are about as different an opponent from the Wildcats as possible.
They don’t push the ball in transition – though they haven’t been exceptional at shooting 3s, connecting on 34.9 percent thus far, the Wolverines hoist a ton of long-range shots. Nearly half of their attempts this season have come from 3-point territory.
“They really like to take their time on offense and work to get efficient shots, and they’re really good at it,” said senior guard Bryce Alford. “It’s a team we can’t get behind early because they’ll run the clock out on us.”
Point guard Derrick Walton is the biggest long-range shooting threat. He’s jacked up over six shots a game from beyond the arc, and connected on more than 40 percent.
He and wingman Zak Irvin are the primary ball-handlers for the Wolverines, though 6-foot-11 forward Moritz Wagner has been by far the most efficient scorer on the team. Wagner has broken out recently, averaging 14.8 points on 68.6 percent shooting over the last four games. He’s got a versatile offensive game that includes three-point shooting, post-up ability and a healthy dose of hard rolls to the rim.
The Wolverines, on the whole, don’t boast the same type of talent that the Bruins do, but, as Steve Alford pointed out, Michigan is a worthy enough opponent to make sure the UCLA players stay focused amidst the nationwide exposure.
Perhaps it helps that UCLA’s star freshman, point guard Lonzo Ball, all but rejects the hype surrounding him and the Bruins.
“I don’t really like the attention,” he said Thursday. “So I walk around with my hoodie on. Try to stay warm.”
Ball will get the kind of attention he prefers Saturday night, with Pauley Pavilion as packed as it’s been in a long time as the Bruins try to stay hot.
“It’s a fun time to be a part of this program,” Bryce Alford said. “We’ve never been ranked this high, so it’s new territory for us. We’re going to have a target on our back.”
UCLA men’s basketball tied with Michigan 50-50 at halftime
DEC 10, 2016 | derrek Li | THE DAILY BRUIN | ARTICLE LINK
Two things happened when UCLA upset then-No. 1 Kentucky a week ago.
First, the Bruins jumped up to No. 2 in the nation. But maybe more importantly, UCLA fans are starting to pay attention again.
Soon after the win against the Wildcats, UCLA Athletics announced that the game against the Michigan Wolverines sold out. And boy, did the Bruin fans make their presence as UCLA headed into halftime with the game tied at 50-50.
For a team featuring the second-highest scoring offense in college basketball and one of the country’s most entertaining players in freshman guard Lonzo Ball, fans just weren’t showing up to the first few games at Pauley Pavilion.
But right from the tip-off tonight, the only word to describe the crowd is loud.
Both teams seemed to feed off the energy.
Michigan shot a ridiculous 12-of-16 from the 3-point line, good for 75 percent, and UCLA tried keeping up with 10 3s on 14 attempts.
Freshman forward TJ Leaf attacked early and often, finishing the half with 11 points. Ball was hot from behind-the-arc, shooting 4-of-4, including a shot from just inside the UCLA logo near half court to tie up the game at the halftime buzzer. He finished the half with a game-high 14 points.
UCLA men’s basketball overpowers Michigan in second half to win 102-84
DEC 10, 2016 | DERREK LI | THE DAILY BRUIN | ARTICLE LINK
With just over a minute left in the first half, it looked like the game was slipping away from UCLA. After holding a 6-point lead with 5:31 before halftime, the Bruins found themselves suddenly down seven to the Michigan Wolverines.
Then Lonzo Ball took over.
The freshman guard sprinted down the court end-to-end before finding senior guard Isaac Hamilton for a corner 3. Then Ball stole a pass that ended with another 3-pointer from sophomore guard Aaron Holiday.
To cap it off, Ball casually drained a 3 from almost the UCLA logo at halfcourt to tie the game at 50 apiece before halftime in front of a sold-out crowd at Pauley Pavilion.
“Every shot I shoot, I expect to make,” Ball said. “I was in rhythm. I shot it, and it went in.”
No. 2 UCLA men’s basketball (10-0) came out of the locker room fired up, seizing the lead away from Michigan (7-3) and never giving it back en route to a 102-84 win.
“The 3-point ball was getting away from us and they were making some key shots, but anytime you could get back into it tied at half and we’re coming out of half with the ball, that was big,” said coach Steve Alford. “Then in the first eight to 10 minutes in the second half, we were able to build that lead.”
The 3s were falling for both teams the entire game – the Bruins shot 15-for-24 and the Wolverines shot 14-of-26.
The second half was a different story, with UCLA holding Michigan to just 2-of-10 shooting from behind the 3-point line after allowing the Wolverines to shoot 75 percent in the first half. The Bruins kept up their hot shooting, going 50 percent in the last 20 minutes.
“They came in really hot, we knew they shot a ton of 3s per game, we knew that was what they were going to try to establish but we couldn’t do a good job taking that away in the first half,” said senior guard Bryce Alford. “Second half I feel like we started to wear them down.”
Even with starting junior center Thomas Welsh out with a bruised right knee, UCLA controlled the paint on both ends of the floor, outscoring Michigan 42-22 in the key.
Freshman forward TJ Leaf picked up the slack with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Ball finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Freshman forward/center Ike Anigbogu, who missed the first part of the season recovering from knee surgery, showed off his rim-protecting potential with four blocks.
“We’ve known what (Anigbogu) could do from practice,” Leaf said. “It’s just a good coming out party for him, just starting to play his game.”.
Holiday shot lights-out, going 6-of-7 from the field including 5-of-5 from 3 en route to 17 points and five assists.