Isaac Hamilton casually backpedaled with about six minutes left in the first half after making another three-pointer.
His success from beyond the arc had become routine by then.
Hamilton would add two more shots from long distance in the second half to tie the single-game school record with nine three-pointers during No. 3 UCLA’s 102-80 victory over the Sun Devils on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion.
Hamilton finished with a season-high 33 points while making 10 of 17 shots, including nine of 14 from beyond the arc. He had a chance to break the record held by Jason Kapono and Bryce Alford — who has made nine three-pointers in a game twice —when teammate TJ Leaf tossed him the ball out of the post with 3:57 left, but his shot rattled out of the rim.
Leaf didn’t realize the potential significance of his pass.
“I had no clue,” Leaf said when told of Hamilton’s record. “Wow, he had nine threes.”
Leaf added 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists and guard Lonzo Ball had 10 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds for the Bruins (19-1 overall, 6-1 Pac-12 Conference), who stretched their home winning streak to 11 games and matched the school’s best overall start since the 1991-92 team also won 19 of its first 20 games.
Hamilton did not speak with reporters after the game because he suffered a lacerated tongue during the game and was receiving stitches. He’s expected to play when the Bruins play host to No. 14 Arizona on Saturday.
“He got it rolling tonight and the guys did a good job of finding him,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said after the Bruins logged 30 assists, their most in a game since they had 32 against California in February 1995.
To say Hamilton had been in a shooting slump over the last month would be an understatement. He recently made four three-pointers combined in a seven-game stretch in which he shot 12.1% from beyond the arc.
After Hamilton momentarily recovered by making four of five three-pointers against Colorado last week, he made only one of seven against Utah on Saturday. Then came Thursday.
“It’s always good to see Isaac shoot well,” said UCLA guard Aaron Holiday, who had 13 points and eight assists off the bench. “That’s a big part of his game and I’m glad he finally got it going tonight.”
Said Ball, whose one-handed outlet pass led to Hamilton’s ninth three-pointer: “Obviously, he’s back.”
Hamilton made seven of nine three-pointers in the first half and would have buried an eighth had UCLA not uncharacteristically fumbled the ball on the way up the court on its final possession. Hamilton’s corner three-pointer came after the buzzer because his teammates couldn’t get him the ball quickly enough.
UCLA fans cheered wildly late in the first half when Bryce Alford’s three-pointer gave the Bruins 10 made shots from long distance, triggering a promotion in which everyone in attendance received a free Chick-fil-A sandwich.
UCLA opened the game in a more dour mood, as if it had been insulted by Arizona State Coach Bobby Hurley calling Kentucky the fastest team he had seen after the Wildcats bludgeoned his team by 46 points two months ago.
The Bruins were certainly a blur in the early going, making their first six shots and taking a 21-9 lead less than five minutes into the game. That put them on pace for 168 points.
By the time Hamilton made his seventh three-pointer later in the half, the Bruins held a 25-point advantage and the scoreboard could have read Hamilton 25, Arizona State 21.
Torian Graham finished with 26 points off the bench for the Sun Devils (9-10, 2-4), who made 11 of 34 three-pointers while trying to match UCLA. It didn’t work because the Bruins made 16 of 27 three-pointers.
“I love when teams try to run with us because I think we’re the best transition team in the country,” Leaf said. “They’re challenging us to see if we can do it better.”