UCLA beats San Diego 75-68 behind Alford's 22
LOS ANGELES (AP) UCLA got outshot, outrebounded and outscored in the first half against San Diego, causing coach Steve Alford to see red at the break.
He called his team out for playing soft, and they responded in the final 20 minutes to earn a 75-68 victory Sunday night, their sixth straight at home.
''We got out-toughed in the first half and that's not something that goes over well with our coaching staff,'' said Bryce Alford, who endured his father's locker room rant before finishing with 22 points. ''The message was to not do what we did in the first half.''
They didn't. The Bruins shot better, controlled the boards and maintained their poise when the Toreros closed within four with 1 1/2 minutes to go.
''My blood pressure was so high I couldn't read the stat sheet,'' the elder Alford said of his halftime temperament.
During their home winning streak, the Bruins (7-2) have won by an average of 21.6 points, although the Toreros provided their closest game yet at Pauley Pavilion.
''It puts things in perspective for us. It's not going to come easy,'' said Norman Powell, a San Diego native who scored 18 points despite foul trouble. ''It's great to be battle-tested early. Got to get a reality check after this game and know that it takes everybody to play every minute.''
San Diego led at halftime, by four early in the second half and tied it up twice before the Bruins gradually took control.
''I was disappointed that we put forth such a great effort and we just couldn't get the job done,'' Toreros coach Bill Grier said. ''We were up on the glass at halftime and I told the team that we couldn't let up on the glass or defensively. But that's what we did in the second half.''
Freshman Kevon Looney added 18 points and 11 rebounds, his sixth double-double in nine games.
Johnny Dee scored 22 points and Brandon Perry added 16 for the Toreros (4-5), who were coming off a 57-58 loss at No. 13 San Diego State on Thursday.
''We have to take this energy and how hard we competed with us,'' Dee said. ''We have to play the same way regardless of who we are playing.''
UCLA stretched its lead to nine twice, both times on baskets by Alford. The Toreros cut it to 59-54 on a 3-pointer by Chris Anderson. Dee hit a 3-pointer to get the Toreros within seven after Tony Parker's basket gave UCLA its first double-digit lead of the game with 4:27 left.
Powell, UCLA's leading scorer who played with four fouls, stole the ball from Anderson and dunked for a 68-59 lead.
Dee hit a 3-pointer and Powell turned the ball over, leading to a steal and basket by Perry that left San Diego trailing 70-77 with 1:26 to go. But Powell quickly made up for it. The Bruins' lone senior hit a 3-pointer to keep them ahead 73-66, and he finished with 16 points.
The Toreros outscored UCLA 13-6 over the final 6:48 to lead 35-33 at halftime. Dee had 11 of their points, including seven in a row. He capped his personal run when Thomas Jacobs blocked Looney, Dee grabbed the defensive rebound and scored on a fast break layup.
The Bruins were held to one basket over that span after leading by six in the game's first 15 minutes.
''They were killing us in the first half,'' Looney said. ''Our defense was terrible.''
San Diego: Anderson struggled offensively for the second straight game. He had been averaging 10.3 points but was scoreless in the loss at San Diego State and went 1 of 5 and had four points against the Bruins. ... San Diego's lone win in the four-game series came on Nov. 26, 2002, when they won 86-81 in overtime.
UCLA: The Bruins got a pep talk during shootaround from former UCLA great Bill Walton, who worked the game for TV. ... They have started the same lineup in their first nine games, with all five averaging double figures.
Dee keeps moving up on the NCAA career scoring list among active players. He has 1,705 points, putting him fourth. The senior has been San Diego's leading scorer in each of his first three years. Dee needs 86 points to claim the top spot on the school's all-time scoring list.
''He's such a good shooter,'' said the elder Alford, a prolific scorer himself at Indiana. ''He doesn't impose his will because he's 6-5; (he's 6-0). He cuts extremely hard. If he stays healthy, you're looking at a 2,000-point scorer in college.''
HOME SWEET HOME
The Bruins have two more home games, including against ranked Gonzaga, before they hit the road for Chicago and a Dec. 20 game against No. 1 Kentucky.
San Diego: Visit UC Santa Barbara on Thursday.
UCLA: Host UC Riverside on Wednesday.