Bruins dominate in 73-54 win over California

UCLA freshman forward Kevon Looney leads a balanced offense with 15 points in a 73-54 victory over Cal

As far back as they'd need to look to find two UCLA wins in a row, the Bruins saw an event even more rare on Sunday.

Yes, UCLA (10-7, and 2-2 in the Pac-12) was on the right side of a dominant performance. Yes, the 73-54 win over California was UCLA's first winning streak in a month. But those feats paled in comparison to what happened in the second half.

Tony Parker took a charge.

Afterward, the 6-feet-9, 260-pound junior was wracking his brain, thinking aloud, trying to determine the last time that happened. All of college was ruled out, except for that one time against Colorado when a charge found him.

"It was luck more than a charge," he admitted.

High school was definitely out, he said, meaning Sunday yielded a first.

"That was the first time, like, I planned on taking in a charge," Parker said.

Upon returning to Westwood after a five-game losing streak, UCLA Coach Steve Alford made a shift. With the pace lagging and jump-shooting off-kilter, Alford decided it was time to involve the big men.

Alford added wrinkles that would allow players like Parker and Kevon Looney to find better positioning and spacing, Parker said. And in the two games since, the guards have fed the ball inside.

"It was a righteous move," Parker declared.

The result has been a more balanced attack and a rejuvenated Parker. He scored 13 points to go with eight rebounds on Sunday and now has 35 points and 20 rebounds in the two games following the strategy change. Looney, his fellow big man, added 15 points and seven rebounds against the Golden Bears.

"That's when we're playing our best," Bryce Alford said of the inside-out game.

In the second half, when UCLA began pounding the paint, the Bruins outscored California (11-6, 1-3) by 14 points. For the second game in a row, the Bruins also harassed the opposing offense with a full-court press.

UCLA led by five at halftime thanks to efforts by Isaac Hamilton, who finished with 13 points, and Norman Powell, who had 14, despite a bruised hip sustained on Thursday.

"As long as nothing's broken," Powell said, "I'm going to be out there."

The 19-point win was UCLA's most lopsided since a 28-point win over Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 3.

Since then, UCLA has enjoyed few moments of levity. A five-game losing streak was only ended by the double-overtime victory against Stanford on Thursday, which players say has provided some momentum. Enough, even, to goad Parker into taking one for the team.

Afterward, Parker said, "I wanted to come out so I could get the charge standing ovation."

Alas, Alford decided to keep Parker in the game — a smart decision, given Parker's effectiveness. But definitely not so righteous.

zach.helfand@latimes.com

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