The UCLA Bruins debuted two of 2016’s top-18 recruits, and Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf had two outstanding performances in UCLA’s blowout of Pacific.
When the buzzer sounded, the Bruins walked off the court with the 119-80 win in college basketball’s opening night. UCLA had five guys score more than 17, and Leaf and Ball were two of the team’s leading scorers.
Bryce Alford was the top dog with 30; Leaf was right behind with 22 and also hauled in 15 boards while fellow frosh Ball nearly recorded a triple-double in his post-secondary debut: 19 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, and just one turnover.
The two shot a combined 15-of-21, but Ball had the highlight of the night with a thunderous alley-oop jam:
Duh Na Na Duh Na Na 😳 #SCTop10
Tune in to watch the 2nd half on @pac12network. #PACvsUCLA #GoBruins pic.twitter.com/31mcBETRsK
— UCLA Basketball (@UCLAMBB) November 12, 2016
The Bruins are undoubtedly going to run amok in the Pac-12 — literally — which is middle of the pack compared to the other Power Five conferences. If Alford, Ball, and Leaf can continue to score at this pace for the length of the season, few teams will be able to trade buckets with UCLA.
Defensively, though, it’s a different story. Surrendering 80 points to a team that finished 8-20 in the conference last year isn’t a good indicator, and this Pacific Tigers team cracked 80 just three times last season — one of those times was a double overtime game.
Although the Tigers put up a bunch of points, they shot just 42 percent from the field, 38 from three, and 50 from the foul line, so the Bruins’ defense wasn’t entirely non-existent.
It was a debut against a lesser opponent for sure, but it appears that UCLA will have to stumble excessively to match last year’s 15-17 record. Based on personnel alone, the Bruins are in contention for a Pac-12 title and the players that they have fit right into their run-and-gun style of play.
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