In their second all-time meeting, UCLA avenged a March 11, 1999 NCAA Tournament upset against the Detroit Mercy Sunday night at Pauley Pavilion, defeating the Titans 106-73 after giving the home crowd a special night that was filled with spectacular dunks.
“I thought it was maybe our most complete game,” said coach Steve Alford who was happy to see his team shoot over 52 percent from the field, as well as out rebound the Titans 47-29. “I was really pleased with our 40-minute effort.”
UCLA point guard Jaylen Hands entered the game at the 15 ½ mark to open the game and the crowd witnessed an emerging young star.
The talented freshman scored 17 of his career-high 23 points before halftime, converting on four of his seven three-pointers, as well as grabbing nine rebounds, four assists and two steals that led to breakaway dunks.
“You know it’s all based on winning, so doing whatever I have to do to get a win for our team,” said Hands who has been coming off the bench since spraining his left foot against Wisconsin on Nov. 21. “As the season goes along I think I’m getting more comfortable and knowing where my spots are on the floor and how I can be effective, so I just think that was the biggest key.”
Prince Ali, who has been inserted into the starting lineup in Hands’ place, finished with 20 points on an eight-for-12 shooting night and has totaled 47-points over his past three games.
“Prince knew he had it going on and he didn’t force it, added Alford. “He let the game come to himself, he let his teammates find him and then he made some really good plays that had to do with passing and helping a teammate, I thought overall Prince was really good.”
The Bruins defense forced the Titans into 12 turnovers, as they shot 33 percent from behind the arc and only totaled ten assists, but did still make ten three-pointers.
“I thought what really got us going tonight was our defense,” Ali said. “We knew coming in that they played a very fast tempo, so we knew if we got stops, we’d be able to run. And we were able to get stops.”
After a Jaylen Hands rebound, the freshman guard drove coast to coast and found trail man Alex Olesinski open for a dunk, as the Bruins led 52-35 at halftime.
The Bruins we’re only 2 for 17 from the 3-point line in its last game against Cal State Bakersfield, but made 11 of its 25 shots from behind the arc against the Titans, including 4 of 9 during the second half.
The second half consisted of highlight plays after another as the Bruins put on a dunk fest, showing how explosive some of their new freshmen are.
Forward Kris Wilkes was first with his two-handed reverse windmill dunk, followed by two breakaway dunks by forward Chris Smith that stretched their lead to thirty-one, 93-62.
Hands got in on the action one last time, as he stuffed down a two-handed reverse dunk for his final basket of the night.
The two freshmen in Wilkes and Smith, combined for 23-points on the night, shooting eight-for-16 from the field, as the Bruins got 50-points overall from their bench.
“That’s huge you know, obviously when you can get points off the bench, that’s obviously gonna help us in the long run and just giving them confidence is good to see happen,” added guard Aaron Holiday who had 14 points and a highlight play that caused his defender to fall with a crossover dribble, followed by his made jump shot.