Bruins cruise to win in Alford’s debut
In his first game as new UCLA coach on Wednesday night, Steve Alford was received with polite applause by a modest Pauley Pavilion crowd listed at 4,522.
By the end of the game, a 96-66 Bruins win over the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes, the small group of fans applauded Alford with more force.
Greeted much more enthusiastically at the start were the returning Jordan Adams, Norman Powell, Kyle Anderson and David Wear, who had all contributed strongly to UCLA’s regular-season Pac-12 title a year ago under Ben Howland, who was fired at the end of the season.
Alford showed little emotion when he walked onto the court, which seemed to be haunted the night before Halloween.
There was about a 20-minute delay when the lights wouldn’t come back on after the player introductions, and then the shot clock didn’t work for five seconds.
“I thought that was a pretty good trick,” Alford said, “turning the lights out and letting the late-arrivers deal with the traffic.”
Alford also said he was touched that legendary UCLA coach John Wooden’s daughter, Nan, was in the stands.
“Walking down the hallway from the locker room to the floor, what it means to see all those banners, the numbers of the guys in the [NBA], the retired jerseys, we want our guys to know, when you walk from that locker room to the floor, what you’re representing, and it’s not just for me,” Alford said. “It’s for them. And to have Nan here, that meant a lot.”
The Bruins had a 31-18 lead at one point in the first half, but it was cut to 42-39 by halftime. Coyotes freshman Khleem Perkins scored six straight points during one stretch.
UCLA (1-0) was led by sophomore guard Adams, who had 25 points and seven rebounds.
The Bruins didn’t miss Travis Wear, who was out after having surgery to remove his appendix Monday. His twin brother, David, contributed a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Alford said Travis was expected to be out 2 1/2 to four weeks.
Six Bruins finished with double figures in scoring. Sophomore guard Norman Powell and freshman Zach LaVine each had 15, and UCLA outrebounded Cal State San Bernardino 53-35. The Coyotes (0-1) were led by 17 points from Perkins.
Alford’s major criticism of his Bruins was of their rebounding. “We have to become a better rebounding team,” he said.