Sunday, February 5, 2017

UCLA's Lonzo Ball brings best to freshman clash with Washington's Markelle Fultz

UCLA's TJ Leaf (22) shoots over Washington's Matisse Thybulle during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

feb 04 2017 | Ap-THE o.c. register | ARTICLE LINK

SEATTLE – Lonzo Ball dazzled in a showdown of standout freshmen, finishing with 22 points, Bryce Alford added 21 points and No. 11 UCLA routed Washington, 107-66, on Saturday night.
The expected faceoff between Ball and Washington’s Markelle Fultz – two of the best freshmen in the country and expected to be among the top picks in the NBA draft – never materialized in the way the sellout crowd hoped. While each had flashes of brilliance, Ball clearly had the better performance.
Ball finished with six rebounds, five assists and hit 7 of 12 shots, an impressive outing with 21 NBA scouts in attendance.
The difference for UCLA (21-3, 8-3 Pac-12) was the other pieces around Ball. T.J. Leaf added 20 points, and Aaron Holiday scored 18.
Fultz led Washington (9-14, 2-9) with 25 points, but got little help. He was 9 for 19 from the field and committed five turnovers.
The outcome was decided by UCLA’s dominant first half that led to a 52-34 advantage at the break and could have been even larger if not for a rash of sloppy turnovers.
Ball was good in those first 20 minutes. He was great for the opening moments of the second half. On three straight possessions Ball knocked down 3-pointers each a few steps further behind the line than the previous. The last one came from about 25 feet and pushed UCLA’s lead to 69-43 with 16 minutes remaining.
Ball had 12 points in the first four minutes of the second half and it was just the start of the rout. UCLA led by 44 in the closing minutes.
While the second half became a blowout, it was UCLA’s first-half offense that exploited every deficiency for Washington at the defensive end. When the Huskies played zone, the Bruins exploited the middle and found open shots for Leaf. When the Huskies switched to man, Ball shook free off the dribble and found his teammates for easy baskets. Two of Ball’s three assists in the first half were slick lobs leading to dunks for Leaf and Ike Anigbogu.
Washington allowed 100 points in a conference game for only the second time in Coach Lorenzo Romar’s 15 seasons. Arizona beat Washington, 106-97, in January 2009.

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