Los Angeles, CA – UCLA tops Stanford 86-81 in a double-overtime Thursday night thriller. Led by their dynamic frontcourt duo of Kevon Looney and Tony Parker, the Bruins managed to overcome a 14 point 2nd half deficit to put an end to their five game losing streak, their longest losing streak in five years. The victory gives UCLA Head Coach Steve Alford his 500th career win and improves the Bruins to (9-7, 1-2) on the year. Stanford (10-4, 2-1), meanwhile, sees their four game win streak come to a heartbreaking end, as the Cardinal have not won at Pauley Pavilion since January of 2005.
UCLA desperately needed to get back in the win column, especially considering how they’ve lost by a lopsided average of 19.2 points per game during their five game losing streak. Picking up their first Pac-12 win against a strong Cardinal team was just what they needed. It was clear from the start that both Looney and Parker came ready to play and were determined to breathe life into their reeling team. Their play became particularly aggressive during the last 10 minutes of regulation and continued into both overtimes where they dominated on both ends of the floor. Looney’s career night ended with 27 points and 19 rebounds (10 offensive), while Parker added 22 points and 12 rebounds for his 3rd double-double this season.
The difference in the game definitely came from under the basket, as UCLA outscored Stanford 32 to 12 in the paint. The combined 49 points and 31 rebounds for the Bruins frontcourt duo clearly added to the bulk of that Cardinal deficit. Even more so, their defensive presence was intimidating Stanford players all evening, as Stanford only shot 11-for-40 on shots inside the arc. Yet, perhaps the biggest play of the night came with 8.5 seconds remaining in the 1st overtime, when Bruin PG Bryce Alford knocked down a clutch 3-point dagger coming out of the timeout. The basket gave the Bruins a temporary lead of 76-75, before Stanford’s Chasson Randle managed to only knock down 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game with 2.3 seconds remaining. In the 2nd overtime, however, UCLA once again showed their dominance in the paint, outscoring the Cardinal 10-5 in the 2nd OT. Although a win is always a positive thing, the Bruins continue to rely too heavily on their starting five. With Thursday night’s zero point, 0-of-4 shooting performance, the Bruins bench is only averaging 7.3 points per game in 16 games this season.
As for the visitors, Stanford senior guard Chasson Randle continued to impress with his 32 point performance Thursday night, while connecting on 7-of-13 from beyond the arc (tying a career high). Coming off his Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for play from December 29th through January 4th, Randle has shown why he’ll garner significant attention from pro teams looking to add an offensive punch to their backcourt. Despite his smaller size and stature (6’2”, 185 lbs), Randle is still quick and crafty enough to get his shot off from anywhere on the court. He is effective at breaking down his opponent off the dribble in 1-on-1 situations, and is just as good at running the floor from side to side without the ball. He gets great lift on his shot and has a quick enough release to get the shot over taller defenders. As was evidence against UCLA, Randle also has the capability of getting hot from behind the arc, and now shoots 37% from three for the season.
UCLA faces Cal at home this Sunday before heading across town to face their archrival USC. As for Stanford, their next two games are a flip-flop in schedule with the Bruins, as the Cardinal head to USC this Sunday before traveling back to Northern California to face Cal.
Quick Tid-Bit: Looney became only the second freshman this season to gather at least 20 point and 15 rebounds, joining Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Also, coach Alford’s 500 NCAA wins are more than any other collegiate coach age 50 or younger.
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