There were less than 10 seconds to play in regulation Friday, UCLA trailed Washington by three, and almost everyone on the court knew who would shoot the ball.
For much of last season, the question of who takes the last shot for UCLA could at least be debated. This season, there is no debate. The Bruins, who will try to earn a split in their first Pac-12 Conference trip Sunday against Washington State, are content to trust Bryce Alford, no matter how poorly he is shooting.
In UCLA's two-overtime loss to Washington on Friday, Alford had made only one of 13 shots when, with less than 23 seconds left, he made two three-pointers to send the game into overtime. With 16 seconds left in the first overtime, he hit another three-pointer to tie it again.
Until then, he had missed all five three-point attempts.
Despite that, he said, "You've got to have confidence that you can help your team."
Alford established his late-game chops in last season's NCAA tournament, when he made four three-pointers in the final four minutes of UCLA's comeback win over Southern Methodist. Since then, he has been the first option at the end of halves and when the shot clock is expiring.
"When my team needs me, I think that's when I'm best," said Alford, who is shooting 37.3% on three-pointers.
Ali in, Goloman still out
Guard Prince Ali returned to UCLA's rotation Friday after missing three games and most of a fourth, with a bruised knee. He played 16 minutes and scored two points.
Forward Gyorgy Goloman, who has yet to play for UCLA this season because of a stress fracture in his leg, did not make the trip to Washington. UCLA Coach Steve Alford had hoped Goloman would return by the start of conference play, but Alford said last week that Goloman had not begun practicing.
On Friday, USC won its first Pac-12 game of the season by 13 points on the road, and scored 90 points, but the Trojans could have won by more, according to point guard Jordan McLaughlin.
After scoring 54 points in the first half, "we came out lackadaisical in the second half," McLaughlin said on the Pac-12 Networks after the game. "We've just got to stay locked in the whole 40 minutes."
That could be an unsettling thought for Pac-12 defenses. The Trojans (12-2) can make a case that they have the most explosive offense in the conference.
USC has already scored 100 points in three games, second in the nation behind only Nebraska Omaha, which has done so four times, including once against an NAIA opponent.
The Trojans are third in the conference in scoring, just one point overall behind Utah for second place. And they have the second-most efficient offense in the Pac-12, one half point per 100 possessions behind Oregon, according to basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy.
Washington State Coach Ernie Kent didn't notice many lapses Friday.
"It looked like a highlight reel out there," he told reporters.