UCLA Enjoys Stellar Shooting Over UNLV, Face Kansas Next
By Rodney S. Yap
Talk about clutch shooting.
The near flawless free-throw shooting of UCLA, connecting on a mind-boggling 23 of 24 at the line, proved to be the difference against UNLV, as the Bruins beat the Rebels 77-75 in the nightcap of Monday’s opening-round action of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational at Lahaina Civic Center.
“You can make an argument that’s what won us the game,” said UCLA guard Bryce Alford, who made 9 of 10 free throws, many coming late in the contest when the game was on the line.
Alford and Thomas Welsh led the Bruins with 20 points apiece as the Bruins (3-1) advanced to face Kansas, which crushed host Chaminade 123-72, in the second of two semifinal games today at 5 p.m. The Rebels (3-1) play the Silverswords in the loser’s bracket at 11:30 a.m. today on ESPN2.
No. 19 Vanderbilt and Wake Forest also were winners, with the Demon Deacons pulling off an upset of Indiana. The Commodores, a 92-55 winner over St. John’s, play Wake Forest in today’s early semifinal at 2:30 p.m.
“That was intense basketball game,” said UCLA coach Steve Alford. “I think UNLV is really good. It’s not so much a statement in the West to me. It’s a good feeling as a coach because we’re getting better, and we were able to hang in there and get a win. This was a big test for us.”
Aaron Holiday had 18 points and made all eight of his free throws for UCLA.
McCaw’s 20 points paced UNLV. He hit 3 of 10 3-pointers, his last one dropping in the final seconds. Stephen Zimmerman Jr., the Rebels’ 7-foot freshman, played through an illness that sapped some of his energy yet finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Jerome Seagears finished with 12 points, and Ben Carter totaled seven points and seven rebounds in the loss.
Perimeter shooting was not the Rebels’ strong suit, but they made enough 3s (9 of 29) to hang within striking distance.
The Rebels’ pressure made an immediate impact. McCaw opened the scoring with a steal and layup. After another Bruins turnover, Zimmerman was fouled and made two free throws. Seagears sank a 3 from the top and Zimmerman hit a 3 from the corner to stretch UNLV’s lead to 14-7 at the 15:55 mark.
But the momentum shifted when the Bruins countered with a 3-2 zone that stymied the Rebels’ half-court offense.
“We extended (the zone) a little bit and made them take some 22- and 23-foot shots, and that slowed them down,” Coach Alford said. “They gave us a pretty good punch to start the game. We took a really good shot from a really good team.”
The Bruins took control of the game despite the absence of Parker, who was forced to the bench early with three fouls and was scoreless in the half. Parker averaged 16.7 points and 16.0 rebounds in the first three games.
“We went through a stretch where we didn’t execute against their zone,” Rebels coach Dave Rice said. “We showed flashes of what we’re going to be. For large portions of the game, we played terrific basketball.”
The Rebels committed 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, and the Bruins shot 47 percent (15 of 32) from the field.
NO. 5 KANSAS 123, CHAMINADE 72
Wayne Selden Jr. and Sviatoslav Mykhaliuk both scored 18 points to lead seven Kansas players in double figures, and the Jayhawks cruised past the Silverswords.
Devonte Graham had 15 points, Frank Mason III had 14, Landen Lucas had 13 and Hunter Mickelson and Perry Ellis both had 11 for the Jayhawks, who shot 64.4 percent from the field (47 for 73).
Kansas (2-1) will play UCLA in the semifinals at 5 p.m. The Jayhawks bounced back from a 79-73 loss to then-No. 13 Michigan State last week in the Champions Classic.
WAKE FOREST 82, NO. 13 INDIANA 78
Bryant Crawford’s driving layup with 3.2 seconds to play gave Wake Forest the lead and the Demon Deacons beat Hoosiers.
Crawford had the ball at the head of the key for about eight seconds before he put his down and drove to the basket to give Wake Forest (3-1) the lead for good. After Indiana turned the ball over on a long pass, John Collins made two free throws with .7 seconds left for the final margin.
Wake Forest will face No. 19 Vanderbilt in the semifinals today at 2:30 p.m.
Indiana (3-1) led 75-67 with 4:50 left but the Demon Deacons went on a 9-2 run to take a 78-77 lead on a drive by Crawford with 24 seconds to play.
Devin Thomas led Wake Forest with 21 points while Dinos Mitoglou scored all 18 of his points in the first half. Crawford finished with 13 points and Collins had 10.
NO. 19 VANDERBILT 92, ST. JOHN’S 55
Jeff Roberson had 11 points and 13 rebounds for Vanderbilt, which opened the game with a 27-4 run en route to a victory over the Red Storm.
The Commodores (4-0) scored the game’s first nine points and it only got worse from there for the Red Storm (3-1), who lost for the first time under first-year coach Chris Mullin and nearly suffered the worst loss in school history.
Luke Kornet, one of Vanderbilt’s three 7-footers, had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Federico Mussini led the Red Storm with 14 points.
For complete coverage, please follow the links below or listen to all the games on Maui’s ESPN 900 AM radio.
Day 1: Monday, Nov. 23, at Lahaina Civic Center
Today’s Games (All Hawaii Times)
St. John’s vs. Indiana, 9 a.m. * ESPN2
Chaminade vs. UNLV, 11:30 a.m. * ESPN2
Vanderbilt vs. Wake Forest, 2:30 p.m. * ESPN
Kansas vs. UCLA, 5 p.m. * ESPN
Seventh place: St. John’s-Indiana loser vs. Chaminade-UNLV loser, 9:30 a.m. * ESPNU
Fifth place: St. John’s-Indiana winner vs. Chaminade-UNLV winner, Noon * ESPN2
Third place: Vanderbilt-Wake Forest loser vs. Kansas-UCLA loser, 2:30 p.m. * ESPN2
Championship: Vanderbilt-Wake Forest winner vs. Kansas-UCLA winner, 5 p.m. * ESPN