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UCLA rout UC Santa Barbara with intense second half defense
By Jonathan Bassey, Contributing Writer
Published November 13, 2019

UCLA’s Alex Olesinski, left, and Prince Ali speak during the Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

UCLA improved to 2-0 in large part of a second-half surge, defeating UC Santa Barbara at the Pauley Pavilion 77-61. From the opening tip-off, the contest shaped up to be a carbon copy of the previous sluggish start against Long Beach State University. The second half defense propelled the Bruins to a victory against LBSU, and history repeated itself against UCSB.

“Really happy with our effort in the second half, 17 deflections. They’re a hard team to turn over because they’re a veteran team with veteran guards. I thought our defensive intensity definitely changed and we actually made a few shots,” said UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin.

Slow starts seem to be the trend for the Bruins. UCLA were held scoreless by UCSB six minutes into the first half. The Gauchos showed their ability to make big time shots led by Senior guard Max Heidegger’s 21 points. 

“I have a lot of respect for Santa Barbara. When you play a veteran team that has everybody back, they have a good coach, and they know their system – they’ve got shotmakers. Heidegger’s a good player. I have a lot of respect for their team, their coach. I thought today was gonna be a brutal day, so we were not surprised at all,” said UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin. 

UCLA’s ability of drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line helped in a big offensive way against the Gaucho’s defense. Shooting 10-of-14 from the free throw line in the first half kept the game within reach for the Bruins. 

 

Throughout the first half the Gauchos bread and butter was thriving on turnovers, with seven points from their scrappy defense. A block on the defensive end led to a Max Heidegger layup that kept the Gauchos ahead, leading to a quick timeout by Bruins Head Coach Mick Cronin who was visibly frustrated with his team. 

UCLA flipped the script and increased the intensity to start the second half. The Bruins left the lackluster mentality in the locker room looking like a completely different team. Senior guard Prince Ali got the ball rolling with a mid-range jumper, then stole a pass leading to a fast-break dunk putting the Bruins in the lead starting the second half 36-34.

“Our second-half defensive intensity went to the level we needed to go to in order to win the game. It’s a mark of a good team – we played better as the game went on. We had a spirited halftime talk and guys rose to the challenge. Sometimes you do that stuff as coaches and nothing changes. I thought Prince changed the game with his effort coming out of the locker room on the defensive end disrupting their offense,” said Cronin.

The Bruins outscored the Gauchos 45-27 in the second half and the hunger to get after the ball in the half resulted in 12 points off UCSB turnovers. 

“I don’t think we played tough enough in the second half. I give [UCLA] a lot of credit. They were just tougher. We really have to get better and that will happen over time,” said Heidegger.

Halfway through the second half the UCLA racked up two blocks and three steals imposing their defensive dominance. Sophomore forward Jalen Hill’s dominant second half proved to be too much for UCSB to contain. Hill got the Bruin faithful on their feet for a monstrous two-handed rim shaking dunk, slamming the door shut on the Gauchos. 

 

“I believe that you have to play extremely hard. I thought that we let Santa Barbara get comfortable, you should not let teams get into your gym and get comfortable. We didn’t try and take anything away from them in the first half. That’s an effort thing. I challenged our guys to come with the effort that I’m accustomed to,” said Cronin.

Jalen Hill spoke on his ability on nearly doubling his career high, “my work ethic. [Head] Coach [Mick] Cronin told me to just go get every board and that’s what happened.” 

UCLA will host UNLV (1-2) at the Pauley Pavilion Friday at 8 pm, looking for a third straight win and keeping the defensive intensity high.

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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