Bruins are high rollers


That’s twice in a row.

UCLA went over the century mark again Thursday, beating Nevada, 105-84, in the Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans Arena.

On Sunday, the 19th-ranked Bruins trounced Chattanooga, 106-65, in a game at Pauley Pavilion that was also part of this invitational event. UCLA last scored in triple digits twice in a row in 1999.

UCLA (6-0) will play Northwestern here at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

It has been an early season filled with many easy wins, something Coach Steve Alford said will be changing as he gets more input into the schedule.


This season’s schedule was mostly made before Alford became coach. He did add games against Drexel, Weber State and Duke, which gives a sense of what the new Bruins coach prefers.

Drexel, which lost to UCLA by five and was in the game until the final 10 seconds, was beaten by Arizona by only four points and beat Rutgers.

The Duke game at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 19 already is being looked forward to by the players.

Alford noted the Bruins will play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament next season, against a field that includes North Carolina, Georgetown, Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama Birmingham, Oklahoma and Butler.

“That will be a great tournament for us,” Alford said of Atlantis.

This year, though, it is the Duke game that has the players talking.

“Duke at the Garden, that’s exciting,” said freshman Zach LaVine, who had a career-high 21 points off the bench Thursday. Four other Bruins also scored in double figures, including Jordan Adams, who had 21 points.

Deonte Burton led Nevada (3-4) with 20 points. Burton is from Los Angeles and played at Compton Centennial.


Alford said he prefers to schedule quality teams in the nonconference part of the season because it helps in recruiting.

“Elite players want to play other elite teams,” Alford said.

Last season when Alford was at New Mexico, the Lobos played USC, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Valparaiso, Connecticut and George Mason, all teams that have recently been in the NCAA tournament or are from power conferences, before beginning Mountain West play.

“My idea has always been to play good people early,” Alford said. “It makes you better as a team and it helps you get good people. I don’t see a downside.”

Nevada has had some good teams. The Wolf Pack reached the third round of the 2004 NCAA tournament, upsetting Michigan State and Gonzaga along the way. It reached the second round in 2007, upsetting Creighton in the first round.

But this version of Nevada has already lost to Cal State Bakersfield, Pacific and Morehead State.

Still, even with the domination that started early -- the Bruins led, 56-39, at halftime -- Alford had some criticism of his team.


“Defense,” he said. “We need to get better defensively.”

Adams echoed his coach. “We need to be better on the defensive end,” said Adams who was 10 for 10 in free-throw attempts. The team was 27 for 29 from the line.

But it was LaVine, who had two dunks that drew ovations even from the Nevada fans, who was being noticed.

Dell Demps, a scout for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, asked in disbelief whether LaVine was only a freshman. “Really? Really?” Demps said.


Freshman Wannah Bail, who had missed the first six games for UCLA because of a knee injury, got his first playing time Thursday. He scored three points and had three rebounds in nine minutes, and Alford said he is excited for the athleticism and physicality the 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward will bring to the team.... Because UCLA had a regular-season game with Missouri already scheduled (Dec. 7) and the Tigers are also in this “invitational,” if both teams stay undefeated, the winner will be determined by who gives up the fewest points over all the games, said Bill Schnier, the event’s sports information director. They don’t play each other here.


Twitter: @mepucin