PALO ALTO — This was UCLA basketball.
Well, the type of UCLA basketball that has become so annoying to Coach Steve Alford and his players.
The Bruins came to the Bay Area trying to chase down first-place Arizona. They rolled through California Thursday and …
Stanford's 83-74 victory at Maples Pavilion on Saturday was another head-scratcher for the No. 23 Bruins. It was the third time in Pac-12 play that they have lost the second game of a two-game trip.
"We were a game away from having a very good weekend," said point guard Kyle Anderson.
Anderson said, "This one was the toughest."
The Cardinal (18-8 overall, 9-5 Pac-12) played well. Chasson Randle was Mr. Outside, scoring 26 points on eight-for-thirteen shooting — seven for 10 on three-pointers. Josh Huestis handled the inside work, making eight of 12 shots for 22 points. Anthony Brown worked well in both areas and finished with 18 points.
But the Cardinal's glossy 62% shooting percentage had roots in UCLA's defense.
Why this keeps happening was perplexing to the Bruins. Anderson was asked whether he could come up with a reason and said, "No, I can't. I think it was just a tough loss, you know what I'm saying."
The type of loss that led to Alford blistering his players post-game at Oregon State. This time, an effort was made to keep the media out of ear shot.
So Alford tried to make the best of the situation publicly.
Asked how the Bruins could prevent repeating the same pratfall in the future, Alford went with, "Score more points than the opponent."
The thing to remember, Alford said, was "we're leaving here in second place, so we haven't lost any ground from that standpoint." He also said, "It's not like we're the only team who hasn't swept in the Bay."
Both were true statements.
Of course, the Bruins also didn't get a sweep in Oregon or on a two-game swing to Colorado and Utah. Alford didn't draw many parallels.
"They are probably all a little bit different just because of the different teams and they were in different parts of the season," Alford said.
His players were ready to connect the dots.
"We got to learn," said center Tony Parker. "We got to learn. This is the third this has happened. We got to pick it up and learn from it. These are big losses."
This one in particular.
"This hurts really, really bad," Parker said.
The Bruins (21-6, 10-4) took one of their sabbaticals in the first half. They went 5 minutes 37 minutes without a field goal. Stanford went on a 12-0 run and led, 38-30, at halftime.
UCLA spent the second half chasing. The Bruins got as close as three points. But every time Stanford needed a basket, Randle, Huestis or Brown provided it.
"Those three guys really got away from us," Alford said.
Randle's three-pointer with 4:49 left gave Stanford a 71-62 lead. The Cardinal made enough free throws the rest of the way.
The Bruins' frontline guys never got going. Jordan Adams had eight points and Anderson six.
UCLA had 12 turnovers. Some, Alford said, "were just careless."
If it wasn't for UCLA's reserves, the Bruins might have walked out with an even more embarrassing loss.
Parker, Bryce Alford and Zach LaVine combined for 36 points. They scored 21 of the Bruins' 24 points during one second-half stretch, keeping the score manageable.
That was the only feel-good moment the Bruins walked away with Saturday.
"We have to respect every opponent," Parker said. "That's a maturity thing. You have to have that to win a championship."
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