Sometimes it’s so much fun to be a freshman.
When UCLA rookie Bryce Alford threw a perfect pass that Zach LaVine slammed in with a whoop and a holler, or when LaVine pulled up on a fastbreak and swished a three-pointer and then blew a kiss, basketball was fun for the newbies, everybody standing and cheering at Pauley Pavilion on Friday night.
And sometimes it’s not as fun. Sometimes the youngsters miss those open threes or the alley-oop pass is just an inch or two long and those same fans are groaning.
LaVine and Alford had both sorts of moments for the 22nd-ranked Bruins, who ran off to a big first-half lead against Morehead State and survived periods of disinterest to beat the Eagles, 81-70.
In the end it was more experienced Bruins who led the way.
Kyle Anderson finished with the first triple-double of his UCLA career — 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists — and fellow sophomore Jordan Adams had a quietly effective evening on his way to a career-high 30 points.
The triple-double was only the third in UCLA history; Toby Bailey and Jelani McCoy had the others. Anderson said he knew he was filling up the stat sheet. “I knew at halftime how many I had, I kind of kept track,” he said.
Adams said he knew about the 30. “It was up there on the scoreboard,” he said.
The Eagles (4-2) were led by center Chad Posthumus’ career-high 21 points plus 18 rebounds.
UCLA Coach Steve Alford couldn’t say enough good things about Anderson and Adams.
“Jordan had 30 and seven rebounds,” Alford said. “Kyle, triple-double, that’s hard to do. How hard? I couldn’t answer that question because I never had one. I didn’t pass much.”
It seemed the Bruins (4-0) were going to put this game away early when they had a 20-2 first-half run, capped by back-to-back three-pointers by LaVine and Bryce Alford, to take a 37-20 lead.
But a timeout seemed to help Morehead State, which quickly surged to within 42-36 and trailed by only eight, 46-38, at halftime.
Alford was a little disappointed the Bruins didn’t go forward from that run.
“We have a little bit of ebb and flow effort-wise in practice too,” Alford said. “We let them get too many of the 50-50 balls.”
The Eagles opened the second half with a layup by Posthumus and that was followed by a three-pointer by Kareem Storey, and suddenly Morehead State was within 46-43.
It was still only a three-point lead when Posthumus scored another layup to bring the Eagles within 48-45 with 15:37 left and forced the Bruins into timeout.
Immediately after the clock started again, though, Adams rattled home a three-pointer that touched all parts of the rim and gave him 20 points.
The Eagles got within three a couple more times, the final instance on a Posthumus dunk and free throw that made it 55-52 with 13:19 left. Adams responded with a layup and jump shot to give UCLA a 59-52 lead but Posthumus wasn’t finished. The 6-foot-11 senior had a rebound basket to pull his team within 59-54. But the Eagles would get no closer.
Travis Wear, who had been out since having an appendectomy Oct. 28, played 22 minutes and finished with 11 points and four rebounds.