Los Angeles, CA – The UCLA Bruins (3-0) dominated at home for the third straight game as they faced the Nicholls St. University Colonels (0-2) in what was their second straight road game to open up the season. UCLA has started off the year on fire with an average margin of victory of 27 points.
The Bruins outpaced Nicholls St. from the opening tip and were led offensively by sophomore guard Bryce Alford. With a unique ability to take his opponent off the dribble, rise up for the quick three, or make a scintillating pass to an open teammate, Alford kept Nicholls St. guards Amin Torres and Richie Lewis off balance all night. After finishing the game with 28 points on 8-of-14 shooting and a career-high six 3-pointers made, Alford is now leading this very potent UCLA offensive attack with 21 ppg. Just as impressive, Alford is also leading the team in assists at 10.7 per game.
Although the first half was heavily lopsided in favor of UCLA (Bruins led 60-29 at the half), Nicholls St. found some offensive punch in the second half off their bench. Junior guard, Torres, connected on four 3-pointers and 18 points in the half as he showed why he is more than capable of consideration for a starting role. Despite this strong second half showing, UCLA’s offense was too much for the Colonels to handle as the Bruins had three players score in the 20s.
This game highlighted UCLA’s major strength – the 3 point shot – as the team now shoots a deadly 47 percent from behind the arc (28-of-60 3FG) on the season. It is tough to gage all strengths and weaknesses of Nicholls St. after just two games, but one weakness was made abundantly clear against UCLA – the Colonels depend far too much on Lewis to get their offense started. His dribble drives to the hoop and quick footwork work well when he’s out on the floor, but when he was out of the game the offense became too stagnant, and the team had to continue to force-feed Torres the ball to get any sort of decent shot off. UCLA also proved to be relentless with their full-court defense and even pressed Nicholls St. full court in the second half when leading by over 25 points.
Other than Alford’s brilliant game, junior forward Tony Parker had his most solid game of the season finishing with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Parker demonstrated a lethal mix of over-powering strength in the paint and soft hands catching no-look passes from Alford. On the defensive side of the ball, UCLA has found a solid young talent in freshman forward Kevon Looney out of Milwaukee, WI. His rebounding effort was stellar (14 total, five offensive), but his ability to follow the trajectory of the ball and block out opponents was truly impressive for only his third collegiate game.
Other than shooting 46 percent from the floor in the second half along with the strong finish from Torres, Nicholls St. has few positives to take from this game. With a brutal non-conference schedule ahead, featuring Wake Forest, Michigan, and top-ranked Wisconsin, the Colonels are going to have to find an answer to their 0-2 start in a hurry.
As for UCLA, the Bruins host cross-town opponent Long Beach State on Sunday in what always proves to be a raucous environment. Following Sunday’s game, the Bruins head out to the Bahamas for a 3-day “Battle 4 Atlantis” Tournament where they are scheduled to play Oklahoma and either Butler or North Carolina before heading back to the mainland.
Quick Tidbit: The Nicholls St. Colonels feature six foreigners on their roster – four Australian natives, one German and one New Zealander.
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