PG Aaron Holiday (USA Today)

UCLA Gets Blown Out By Kansas

Nov. 25 -- UCLA got blown out by Kansas 92-73 on Tuesday night, and it wasn't that close...

Well, on the bright side, at least it wasn’t as bad as Kentucky!

Of course, it was still plenty bad, UCLA losing 92-73 to Kansas on Tuesday night. That final score is actually due to a little bit of second half window dressing, as UCLA was very clearly blown out in this one by, oh, about the 11:52 mark in the first half when Kansas went up 26-9. When the Jayhawks were fully engaged on both ends of the floor, UCLA really didn’t have much of an answer for them.

The Bruins did not handle Kansas’s defense well in this game. Kansas did a great job of denying Bryce Alford the ball in his favorite spots throughout the first half, and it definitely seemed that he got a little impatient and started resorting to some one-on-one play when he would get the ball on the perimeter. Thomas Welsh and Tony Parker both missed a number of layups, which is sort of surprising because they both have natural size advantages over Kansas’s posts, but really didn’t seem to deal with their athleticism well. Parker, in particularly, did a really poor job of recognizing double teams.

Defensively, UCLA did not have an answer for Kansas’s ability to hit from three, and what’s more, it didn’t seem like the Bruins were particularly interested in finding one. It’s instructive to note that UCLA, through the very end of the first half and into the first minutes of the second half, made nine of ten shots and only managed to cut into Kansas’s lead by seven points. UCLA tried its 3-2 zone for stretches in this game, but basically every time the Bruins went into it, Kansas attacked it by throwing over the top of the front-line into the corner for an easy three opportunity. Then, in man, UCLA just generally played really poorly. About the only guy in the starting lineup that could hang athletically with his matchup was Aaron Holiday, and he didn’t even have a great defensive game. Post defense was abysmal, with both Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh struggling to put up any kind of resistance to Perry Ellis on the interior.

Isaac Hamilton had a big game offensively, lighting up the scoreboard for 19 points after playing one of the worst offensive games we can remember against UNLV in the first game. That’s obviously a nice sign, that he hasn’t gone completely in the tank after the first four games of the season, but defensively he was, like much of the team, really bad. Prince Ali was effective scoring in this one too, and although he got a little sped up at times, he has really nice potential, and it would be good to see him start to cut into Hamilton’s minutes (Hamilton had 33 in this game to Ali’s 15).

UCLA really didn’t get much from its post guys. Welsh and Parker combined for 21 points, but much of their production came in the second half when the game was already over. Neither player rebounded well in this one against Kansas’s athleticism, which is probably a product, in part, of the Jayhawks shooting the lights out (54.2% on the day, including 43.5% from three). Both players had a couple of turnovers, and each had an issue getting the ball out of the high post to the point guard, with Welsh passing the ball directly to a Kansas player at one point later in the game and Parker handing the ball off to a Kansas player on one of the first possessions of the game.

If you were looking for a mild bright spot in this mess, it was Holiday. He looked like he belonged on the court with the Kansas athletes, and did a nice job driving to the hoop, and his jumper looked good as well. It’s honestly a little bit of a shame to watch him play with some really good defensive energy for long stretches of this game and not get any real help from the rest of the team. You could easily see that starting to wear on him as the season goes along — it’s one thing for a senior leader in Norman Powell to keep defending hard even though his teammates aren’t really helping him, but Holiday is an impressionable freshman. Hopefully he can keep up that energy for the rest of the year.

The 3-2 wasn’t anywhere close to as effective as it was against UNLV. Jonah Bolden played 17 minutes and didn’t make too much of an impact. Alex Olesinski actually played more minutes than Bolden in this one, which was a little surprising. Olesinski played with good energy, but he really shouldn’t be on the court for 19 minutes against the elite athletes from Kansas. Both players had stretches at the top of the zone, and their length really didn’t seem to bother Kansas too much.

Alford, as we said, had a pretty miserable game. He only found room for six shots, missed all of his threes, and struggled on defense.

UCLA’s transition defense was really bad in this one, especially in the first half, when Kansas seemingly had a run-out after every UCLA missed basket. That settled down in the second half, but that might have simply been Kansas kind of losing interest in the game after tallying nearly 60 points in the first half.

So, now UCLA heads into its final game in Maui against Wake Forest. To the extent that a blowout could have been expected, this loss to Kansas was, but it would be key for the Bruins to rally and notch a win over the Demon Deacons. That would give UCLA a 2-1 record in Maui including two wins over credible opponents and an understandable big loss to the No. 5 team in the country. That wouldn’t quite make up for the loss to Monmouth, but it would certainly improve UCLA’s resume come selection time.

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