No. 14 UCLA romps past Portland 99-77 in Wooden Legacy
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) UCLA coach Steve Alford thought Lonzo Ball got off to a slow start Thursday night.
If that was a slow start for Ball, it bodes very well for the Bruins this season.
The freshman sensation had 18 points and 11 assists for his third career double-double, turning in several spectacular plays as No. 14 UCLA romped past Portland 99-77 in the first round of the Wooden Legacy.
''The guys fed off him. If he's learning anything, it's that this team really trusts him,'' Alford said. ''When he gets rolling, it really helps what we are doing at both ends.''
All five starters for UCLA (5-0) scored in double figures, buoyed by impressive ball movement that led to a tournament-record 29 assists on 36 field goals. Thomas Welsh added 16 points and 10 rebounds, Isaac Hamilton had 16 points, TJ Leaf scored 14 and Bryce Alford 13.
Pilots coach Terry Porter, a longtime NBA player and coach, said Ball is a bigger version of Jason Kidd and a better shooter than Kidd was coming out of California.
''Man, he's just got a lot of good skills,'' Porter said. ''Just a big point guard with great vision, really plays the right way, plays unselfishly.''
Jazz Johnson scored 25 points for Portland (3-1), which trailed 45-37 at halftime after going 7 of 13 on 3-pointers.
UCLA used an 11-0 run early in the second half to open a 21-point lead, allowing the Bruins to put on a show for the partisan crowd.
It appeared UCLA would become the first team to score 100 points in the 22-year history of this event, but the Bruins fell just short. They easily sped past the 93 points Louisville scored in a 1996 overtime win.
UCLA: The Bruins got a necessary lesson in perimeter defense. Hot outside shooting can get a team upset in March, and Coach Alford gets to impart that without actually losing a game. No one can question UCLA's offensive firepower, but it will be the other side of the ball that determines how much the Bruins accomplish in Ball and Leaf's freshman season.
Portland: The Pilots hung in admirably for a half and can build on that. UCLA is going to steamroll plenty of teams this season, but Portland made the Bruins exert themselves for longer than anyone would have expected. On nights when Portland shoots the ball well and plays solid defense, it should be able to challenge the top teams in the strong West Coast Conference.
UCLA will certainly take Pac-12 rival Oregon's spot at No. 13 if it wins the Wooden Legacy, but any further upward momentum is unlikely unless the weekend brings a spate of upsets. The Ducks should remain ranked in the teens after dropping their opener in the Maui Invitational, which will leave No. 8 Arizona and No. 11 Gonzaga as the highest-ranked teams on the West Coast before the Wildcats and Bulldogs square off Dec. 3.
Ball and Leaf are entering the ''firsts'' portion of their brief college careers, playing in their first tournament this weekend, facing their first Power Five opposition Friday and first road trip at No. 1 Kentucky next week.
Coach Alford is pleased with how Ball and Leaf have been able to handle and process such moments so far.
''They learn as they go, but they are doing a great job of figuring it out as they are learning these new experiences,'' he said.
Aaron Holiday found Ball for a nifty reverse alley-oop. The freshman was in midair parallel to the basket when he tossed the ball up and in, a play that reflected the infectious willingness to move the ball that has energized UCLA.
''It becomes contagious,'' Steve Alford said. ''We'll pass up wide-open looks to get somebody an even better look and that's something that is fun to watch as a coach.''
HE SAID IT
''I thought we were soft and allowed them to be comfortable, especially in that first half,'' Alford said of UCLA's defense to start the game.
UCLA will face Nebraska in a second-round game Friday after the Cornhuskers downed Dayton 80-78.
Portland plays the Flyers on the consolation side of the bracket Friday.
This story has been corrected to fix spelling of last name of Thomas Welsh and number of career double-doubles for Lonzo Ball.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
|35.3||Min. Per Game||35.3|
|16.3||Pts. Per Game||16.3|
|9.0||Ast. Per Game||9.0|
|6.3||Reb. Per Game||6.3|
|45.3||Field Goal %||62.2|
|14.3||Three Point %||47.8|
|91.7||Free Throw %||72.7|
|Defensive rebound by Aaron Holiday||2.0|
|Field Goals||26-69 (37.7%)||36-66 (54.5%)|
|3-Pointers||14-32 (43.8%)||14-29 (48.3%)|
|Free Throws||11-13 (84.6%)||13-18 (72.2%)|