UCLA holds lead, beats Pepperdine 81-67
LOS ANGELES (AP) It may seem simple, but an equipment change may be what Bryce Alford needed to bring the leadership coach Steve Alford wants from him this season.
''I think Bryce did a really good job leading us. That's the most vocal he's been,'' said Alford after his point guard scored 19 points to lead UCLA to an easy 81-67 victory over Pepperdine.
''He's learning to deal with that mouthpiece now, and take it out and talk.
''He did a really good job of leading us at both ends.''
The junior said he made it a point to communicate mostly on the defensive end as the Bruins led by double digits most of the way.
While Tony Parker recorded his third consecutive double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds, his coach was happiest about the senior's work at the defensive end, saying, ''Tony proved tonight he can guard, and still get 15 and 15.''
Aaron Holiday added 16 points for the Bruins (2-1), who won their second straight after a season-opening upset loss to Monmouth that still stings for the Bruins.
The Bruins woke up with their best defensive effort of the season.
''We really emphasized that last week in practice, getting out on defensive transition drills, getting out-numbered and talking,'' Alford said. ''When you're a man down, you have to communicate.''
Lamond Murray Jr. scored 22 points to lead Pepperdine (1-2), which struggled with UCLA's size when Parker, at 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, and seven-footer Thomas Welsh were in the game.
''Their size was a big difference that they took advantage of, especially at the beginning,'' said Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson. ''I wasn't afraid of our lack of size against them, because we're pretty good down there. But we settled for the easy shot instead of pounding it inside.''
Kameron Edwards added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Waves.
The Bruins were finally able to make a big lead stick. In their opener, the Bruins let a 13-point, second-half lead get away in their overtime loss to Monmouth. They saw a 15-point, second-half lead evaporate into a 69-68 deficit before beating Cal Poly.
''It always hurts to lose,'' said Bryce Alford. ''But you have to take positives from (the loss to Monmouth). It was a wake-up call. That score is still on our board in our locker room, and it's going to stay there all year.''
UCLA took control early, reeling off 11 unanswered points and hitting three consecutive 3s for a 22-7 lead on Parker's lay-in 6:08 into the contest.
The Bruins expanded their lead to 29-11 on two free throws by Prince Ali with 10:28 left in the first half, and stayed in control the rest of the way.
The Waves, who trailed throughout, were never a threat though they got untracked momentarily in the middle of the first half, scoring eight straight to pull within 29-19 on Jett Raines' free throw with 7:11 in the half. The Bruins responded with an 8-2 run, taking a 37-21 lead on Isaac Hamilton's step-back jumper. Pepperdine got no closer than within 14 points the rest of the half.
Pepperdine: The Waves return all five starters from 2014-15. Lamond Murray Jr. is the cousin of Tracy Murray, who played for UCLA and in the NBA for 12 seasons. His father played at Cal and in the NBA for 11 seasons. The last time Pepperdine beat an AP Top 10 opponent was an 85-78 victory over 10th-ranked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 28, 2001.
UCLA: The Bruins came into the game with an 18-4 lifetime record vs. Pepperdine, winning the last four. The Bruins are 33-4 at Pauley Pavilion since coach Steve Alford took over in 2013-14. The 2015-16 season marks the 50th year the Bruins have called Pauley Pavilion their home arena.
Pepperdine plays Duquesne in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla., on Monday.
UCLA plays UNLV at the Maui Invitational on Monday.
BAD HANDS CONTINUE
UCLA committed a total of 34 turnovers in their first two games this season, including 23 in their season-opener against Monmouth. The Bruins' carelessness continued Thursday night, committing 17 against the Waves.
The Bruins get on a plane on Friday for three games in Maui. ''It's not make or break,'' said Coach Steve Alford. ''But it's an early-season litmus test and a chance to prove ourselves.''