UCLA gets a lot of points across
Pigs flew. Hell froze over.
And the UCLA basketball team scored 113 points.
That would be Ben Howland’s team. Tough defense. Never met a shot clock it couldn’t milk.
But there was something different about the 13th-ranked Bruins and their 113-62 victory over Wyoming at Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday night.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” guard Darren Collison said. “Any time we get up and down with a team, it’s basically a fun style of play.”
Blame Wyoming, which came into the game as one of the highest scoring teams in the nation.
How else to explain UCLA’s biggest offensive output since a 114-97 victory over Cal State Northridge in 1998. That was five years before Howland took over as coach.
Offense has taken a back seat under Howland, the program forging its reputation on tough, deliberate play, a style that has translated into three consecutive trips to the Final Four. So Tuesday night’s game was startling in many ways.
Swingman Michael Roll, one of UCLA’s best shooters, had a career-high 18 points . . . in the first half.
The team’s 59 points over that same stretch would have won half their games this season.
The 9-2 Bruins, who had struggled shooting at times this season, made 60% of their attempts from the field, or 11 percentage points better than their average.
“We can play that way very easily,” Roll said. “We have a lot of talented players.”
Going into the game, UCLA had taken a more traditional stance, talking about the hard work required to keep their high-scoring opponent in check. Wyoming’s gaudy 84-point scoring average included 100-point games against the likes of Johnson & Wales and Western State, as well as big wins over Texas State and Sacramento State.
Hardly RPI giants.
Still, the Cowboys soon proved they could shoot the ball, opening up a lead over UCLA by making all their shots in the first few minutes.
“Obviously,” Howland said, “I was concerned.
Wyoming guard Sean Ogirri was particularly deadly, starting perfect from the field with a jump shot and a string of three-point baskets from well beyond the arc.
“He is a calming force on the court,” Wyoming Coach Heath Schroyer had said before the game. “He never gets rattled.”
Yet it did not seem possible that he or his teammates could keep up the pace, and they didn’t.
As Howland pointed out afterward, the Bruins used defense to turn the tables. They began making steals in alarming numbers and taking advantage of the faster speed of play.
When Roll made a three-pointer at the buzzer, UCLA had built a 59-34 halftime lead and Wyoming, its 9-2 record filled with lesser opponents, was on the way to tying its worst defeat since 1908.
“It was the first time we got punched in the mouth,” Schroyer said. “It’s great when you play a top-10 team and they expose things.”
Any doubt about the outcome was erased early in the second half.
Roll stayed hot with another three-pointer, then made a bank shot. Alfred Aboya finished a fast break and the Bruins led by 30 points. UCLA continued to push its advantage.
“Our defense started to tighten down,” Howland said. “Obviously, forcing them into 29 turnovers is a huge stat.”
The Bruins transformed those 29 turnovers into 40 points. They also scored 26 second-chance points and 20 on the fast break.
By the time the reserves entered the game, Roll had a game-high 25 points. Substituting for the injured Josh Shipp, he had made yet another convincing argument for more playing time.
Collison finished with 19 points and seven assists. Freshman big man Drew Gordon had 14 points and 11 rebounds in 15 minutes.
And the crowd of 8,795 stood and cheered as if it were an early Christmas gift.
“Even though we’re a defensive team, we have talent,” Collison said. “We have players who can shoot and score.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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