Led by three freshmen starters, UCLA’s offense has cranked up in its last three home games.
Shabazz Muhammad scored 20 of his career-high 27 points in the second half, Jordan Adams added 25 points and Kyle Anderson had career bests with 20 points and 17 rebounds in the Bruins’ 91-78 victory over Fresno State on Saturday night. It was the first time three UCLA freshmen scored 20 or more points in a game.
It was the Bruins’ fourth straight win, and the third game in a row that they scored 89 or more points.
Muhammad credited the team’s unselfishness for the recent offensive burst.
”We have multiple guys in double digits,” he said. ”We’re really doing a good job on the offensive end. We’ve been playing really well and we’re going to continue to play really well.”
UCLA (9-3) will need to, with No. 12 Missouri coming to Pauley Pavilion on Friday to close out the Bruins’ non-conference schedule. So far, they’re 3-0 in the midst of playing six straight home games.
The Bruins improved to 7-0 all-time against the Bulldogs in the teams’ first meeting since Dec. 27, 1990.
UCLA’s Larry Drew II had 10 assists and one turnover in 35 minutes, the fourth time he’s had 10 or more this season.
Freshman Marvelle Harris scored a career-high 19 points and Tyler Johnson added 16 in Fresno State’s fourth straight loss. The Bulldogs (5-7) are winless in three games against the Pac-12 this season, having lost at Washington State and to Colorado this month.
”Our heads were not in the game,” Harris said. ”The effort was there, but it was the mental lapse that let us down. We have the effort but we just have to bring the brains too.”
The Bruins trailed for much of the game before building a double-digit lead early in the second half. Adams’ 3-pointer made it 57-46 just before a dominant stretch by Muhammad. He keyed a 13-5 run with 11 points, pushing UCLA’s lead to 70-54 with 8:42 to play. Muhammad grabbed seven rebounds in helping the Bruins dominate the boards, 42-26.
Adams, Norman Powell and Anderson combined to score six straight points in extending UCLA’s lead to 79-63.
The Bulldogs shot 50 percent in the second half, when they were outscored 52-42. Their strong man-to-man defense stifled the Bruins’ ability to run.
”Our guys hung in there,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. ”Those types of teams are going to be hard for us because our team is still learning. Teams that want to get up and down, that’s better for us.”
UCLA scored 10 points in the last 1:50 to lead 39-36 at halftime. Adams and Anderson had four points each during the stretch.
”We wanted to go into the half on a run,” said Anderson, who fell three assists shy of a triple-double. ”Closing the half on a run would be a great momentum swing.”
Fresno State built its largest lead, 25-16, during a 10-2 run that included two 3-pointers by Kevin Olekaibe. An 8-0 run led to the Bulldogs’ first lead early in the game, capped by Allen Huddleston’s 3-pointer – one of their five in the half, when their bench outscored UCLA’s reserves 19-2.