No. 19 UCLA has little trouble with Nevada in Las Vegas opener
LAS VEGAS (AP)
UCLA coach Steve Alford had plenty to be thankful for Thursday night.
His 19th-ranked Bruins' athleticism, offensive prowess and deep bench proved to be too much for Nevada in a 105-84 victory in the opening round of the Las Vegas Invitational.
Led by Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine, who each had 21 points, five players scored in double figures for the Bruins (6-0), who quickly erased an early five-point deficit and built a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
UCLA's lead got as high as 19 in the first half, when the Bruins shot 16 of 25 (64 percent) from the field and 17 of 18 at the free throw line. They finished at 60.7 percent from the floor, including 10 of 20 from 3-point range, and 27 of 29 (93.1 percent) from the foul line.
"Any time you play well, you appreciate the effort," said Alford, in his first season at UCLA. "That's a maturity level, that when you've got somebody down 25 to 30 points, you take it to another level."
The Bruins used a 23-14 run to open the second half to extend their lead to 79-53 with 12:58 remaining. Nevada followed with a 7-0 run of its own, but could never get into an extended groove against UCLA's tenacious zone defense, which forced 16 turnovers and tied for the most the Wolf Pack have committed this season.
Conversely, the Bruins had 21 assists against 13 turnovers for the game. UCLA limited the Wolf Pack to 45 percent shooting from the field (27 of 60), while Nevada shot just 19 of 25 (76 percent) from the free throw line.
Ten players in all scored for UCLA, including Kyle Anderson, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds for his 12th double-double in 41 career games for the Bruins. Coming into the game, the 6-foot-9 sophomore was averaging 11.6 points and a team-best 9.8 rebounds.
"I hope that all of our guys are confident, not because of whether they score or make shots, but just by the way we play," Alford said. "When it's all relied on making shots, confidence can be a fragile deal. I've always believed that you got confidence because you know you can play, period."
It was the second consecutive 100-point game for the Bruins, who beat Tennessee-Chattanooga 106-65 on Sunday.
"We tried to change defenses and get them off of their rhythm, but we really didn't do a good job of that," Nevada coach David Carter said. "I'm not that deep in the frontline, so when you get deeper you can't score. (And) when you are not getting any stops you can't run.
"I thought we were too tentative in the first half and the game got away from us."
After falling behind 7-2 only 2 minutes into the game, UCLA scored nine straight points in a 16-4 run to pull ahead 18-11 at the 13:06 mark. LaVine hit a pair of 3-pointers to spark the first spurt.
The freshman guard scored 10 of UCLA's first 25 points to help the Bruins extend their lead to 10 points midway through the first half. The Wolf Pack refused to go away early, though, scoring the next four points to cut the lead to 25-19. But that was the closest they would get the rest of the game.
Adams quickly ended Nevada's mini-run with a 3-pointer and the Bruins went on a 10-for-10 run from the free throw line to go back up by 12 with 5:29 left. The teams traded buckets before LaVine's double-handed, windmill slam on a fast break put UCLA up 42-28 with 4:21 left, putting an exclamation point on the first half.
"I take a lot of shots before games," LaVine said. "I feel confident with my shot right out of the gate. (And) once you get a dunk it gets you rolling a little more, and gets you a little bit more rhythm."
David Wear scored the Bruins' final nine points of the half to give UCLA a 56-39 lead at the break.
UCLA will play Northwestern on Friday, and the Wolf Pack will face Missouri.