LOS ANGELES -- UCLA opened Pac-12 play with a 79-65 victory over California on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion. It was the Bruins' sixth victory in a row. Here's a quick breakdown:
How it happened: After using an offensive explosion in their past four victories, the Bruins ground out a slow-paced victory against a well-coached and disciplined California team that kept hanging around even when UCLA opened double-digit leads in the second half.
The 79 points by the Bruins were their fewest since a 65-63 victory over Texas on Dec. 8. Credit goes to a Bruins defense that has been under scrutiny after giving up 70, 78 and 94 points the past three games, but held the Golden Bears to 39.5 percent shooting.
UCLA led 46-30 early in the second half, but Cal cut the lead to 49-43 just three minutes later. The Bruins went back up 56-45 with 10:48 to play, but Cal closed it to 61-57 with 5:30 to play. The Bruins then extended their lead to 70-59 and made 9 of 9 free throws in the final 1:32 to seal the game.
The Golden Bears jumped out to an early 8-2 lead and were up 12-10 before a Norman Powell 3-pointer gave UCLA its first lead at 13-12 with 13 minutes left in the first half. The score was tied at 21-21 with 8:34 to play in the first half, but the Bruins took control from there and went on an 11-4 run to end the half for a 38-28 lead.
Player of the game: Anderson's double-double was his fourth of the season. He made 4 of 4 free throws down the stretch and also grabbed several key rebounds in the waning minutes. Larry Drew has nine assists, his fifth consecutive game with nine or more, and has 47 assists and six turnovers on the current home stand.
Stat of the game: California was 0-12 on 3-pointers and has now gone consecutive games without making one. The last time UCLA held a team without a 3-point basket was April 1, 2006, against Louisiana State in a Final Four game.
What it means: UCLA opened conference play with a victory, which is an improvement over last year when the Bruins were swept at Cal and Stanford in the opening week of conference play. Those games were on the road, however, and the home victory Thursday means UCLA has now won 10 consecutive home conference openers.
What’s next: UCLA plays Stanford Saturday at noon PT at Pauley Pavilion.