UCLA’s Jordan Adams does his part in victory over Washington
SEATTLE -- The trip that means little to UCLA’s immediate future was full of postcard moments Thursday.
Jordan Adams had a career night. Freshman Zach LaVine had a triumphant, and chatty, return. Athletic Director Dan Guerrero even dropped by the locker room.
All part of a 91-82 victory over Washington at Alaska Airlines Arena.
What did it mean to the Bruins in the big picture? Absolutely nothing, at least as far as tangible returns.
The chance for a Pac-12 championship is in the past. Arizona clinched the title last week. The Pac-12 tournament is in the future, though UCLA is already in position for that.
The Bruins (23-7 overall, 12-5 in Pac-12 play) came into Thursday’s game assured of being the second-seeded team and will play the winner of the game between the seventh-seeded team and Oregon State.
The only thing the trip can provide is momentum, and that will depend on what happens next.
The Bruins play Washington State on Saturday. UCLA has lost the second game during their previous two-game trips.
“It’s their senior night,” Adams said. “They are going to be amped up to play. We have to show up focused.”
Adams was Thursday. He scored a career-high 31 points before leaving the game with a cramp with seven minutes left. He returned three minutes later to discover someone else had taken over the scoring business.
LaVine scored 11 of his 14 points in the last four minutes to finish off his first college game in Seattle, where he played at Bothwell High. Chants of “traitor, traitor, traitor,” from the Washington student section greeted him.
“They are trying to get to me like I’m trying win the game,” LaVine said. “I think it’s hilarious. It’s good they remembered me. I was having a little fun with it.”
Too much fun.
Coach Steve Alford wasn’t laughing when LaVine addressed some fans after being fouled while scoring on a layup.
“He said, ‘We don’t do that. We already beat them, you don’t need to do anything else,’” LaVine said. “You know, coach stuff.”
Said Alford: “I told him it’s what happens [on the court]. Do your talking there.”
Still, it was all smiles afterward. The Bruins came away with a big victory, bringing Guerrero to the locker room. The athletic director was in attendance a year ago, when Ben Howland’s team clinched the Pac-12 regular season title at Washington, but was absent from the postgame celebration.
The difference this time is Guerrero won’t be firing Alford. The first-year coach was brought in for this type of offensive performance.
The game had that summer-day-in-the-gym look throughout. It was more a pick-up game with referees.
“We like playing that way,” Alford said. “We’re most comfortable playing that way.”
But, Alford said, “there was probably too much offense and not enough defense for both teams.”
UCLA shot 54% and Washington 55%.
“We got stops when we needed them,” Alford said.
They came during a second half that was more track meet to Adams. At one point, he scored 10 of UCLA’s 16 points. He made 11 of 15 shots for the game, many in transition.
“He is moving without the ball extremely well,” Alford said. “He’s cutting extremely hard. He plays at a great pace.”
Alford’s message to Adams had been succinct.
“Coach said to keep attacking,” Adams said.
He did right up until a cramp forced him out with the Bruins leading, 75-66.
“Too much chasing C.J. Wilcox around,” Adams said.
Wilcox had 20 points to lead Washington (16-14, 8-9).
LaVine tapped in, chiming in with three consecutive shots and a few choice words.
“It’s an emotional game,” LaVine said. “I’m back in my hometown. It happens sometimes.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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