Bryce Alford is a shooting star in UCLA’s victory over Colorado
A scoreboard video feature noted the elevation of 5,345 feet here in the minutes before tipoff, providing what it called a “pregame altitude warning.”
UCLA also could have used some caution about attitude.
Colorado was in desperation mode after dropping its first three Pac-12 Conference games and the Buffaloes’ want-it-more demeanor sustained them during an uncomfortably taut first half for the Bruins.
No amount of willpower could overcome the offensive onslaught that Bryce Alford and UCLA unleashed over the final 20 minutes.
Alford made three three-pointers in the first three minutes of the second half, including one that he banked in while falling down, to help the fourth-ranked Bruins zip to a 104-89 victory at the Coors Events Center.
Alford tied a career high with nine three-pointers on the way to career-high 37 points for UCLA (17-1 overall, 4-1 Pac-12), which made a school-record 19 of 31 three-pointers (61.3%) and reached triple digits for the first time in conference play.
“I wanted him to get 40,” UCLA guard Lonzo Ball said. “He was one three off, so I told him to pull it.”
Alford, who took 14 three-pointers, missed his final two attempts. His nine three-pointers — seven in the second half — were a career record of sorts considering his final three-pointer when he made nine against Southern Methodist in the 2015 NCAA tournament came as the result of a controversial goaltending call.
“It’s good because Pops wanted to say after the SMU game that I only made eight, even though the stat sheet said nine,” Bryce said of his father, UCLA Coach Steve Alford.”I made nine tonight, so he can’t say anything.”
Informed that a reporter had tape of his father ceding the family record after having also made eight when he played for Indiana, Bryce said, “That’s good. I need that tape.”
Bruins guard Isaac Hamilton emphatically emerged from the worst slump of his career, finishing with 20 points while making seven of 11 shots and four of five three-pointers. His third three-pointer of the second half gave the Bruins a 20-point lead.
Ball drove past Derrick White for a two-handed dunk for the first points of the second half and the Bruins only seemed to accelerate from there.
The strong start to the second half was a welcome reversal for UCLA after a pair of sluggish pockets immediately after halftime at home last week.
Xavier Johnson had 21 points for the Buffaloes (10-7, 0-4), who had the misfortune of trying to match the Bruins’ pace and failing spectacularly.
UCLA had to play the final few minutes of the first half with its four-guard lineup after big men TJ Leaf, Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman each picked up two fouls. It worked out well for the Bruins.
Ball and Hamilton made three-pointers to help UCLA go on a 12-7 run that gave it a 51-45 halftime lead. But the Bruins couldn’t get to the locker room before forward-center Ike Anigbogu also picked up his second foul.
Guard Aaron Holiday saved UCLA with 10 points off the bench in the first half, acknowledging his efforts by gleefully skipping back up the court after sinking a jumper.
Colorado’s extra effort was reflected in its 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, resulting in nine second-chance points. The Buffaloes were also strong defensively, denying the Bruins their usual easy looks.
With 7:34 left before halftime, UCLA had five turnovers and four assists. The Bruins’ halftime lead was largely courtesy of their making nine of their first 15 three-pointers.
“The first half, actually, it felt like I was running in mud, like my breathing was off or something,” Ball said. “We all regrouped and the offense was clicking. It was perfect.”
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