New-look UCLA uses fast pace to wear down Cal

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Sports - BY BETH HAR­RIS

Two-a-day prac­tices dur­ing hol­i­day break. An em­pha­sis on team unity. It’s a dif­fer­ent time at UCLA these days.

Nowhere is that more ev­i­dent than in the Bru­ins’ re­sults.

Kris Wilkes scored 18 points, and UCLA pulled away in the sec­ond half to beat Cal­i­for­nia 98-83 on Satur­day, giv­ing the Bru­ins a sweep on the open­ing week­end of Pac-12 play.

“We’re all great play­ers. You know when you hit ad­ver­sity you need to find a way to get out of it,” said re­serve Jules Bernard, one of six Bru­ins in dou­ble fig­ures with 12 points. “I don’t think we were work­ing as hard as we pos­si­bly could ear­lier.”

They are now un­der in­terim coach Murry Bar­tow, who re­placed Steve Al­ford af­ter he was fired Mon­day amid a four-game skid. Bar­tow has had the play­ers prac­tic­ing twice daily and lift­ing weights dur­ing their break from classes.

“It all starts in prac­tice. We’re all happy for each other. We’re like brothers,” said Moses Brown, who had 16 points and nine re­bounds. “We all want the best for each other.”

Chris Smith had 15 points, and re­serve David Singleton had a sec­ond straight ca­reer high with 14 points for the Bru­ins.

Bar­tow has the Bru­ins play­ing a fast­paced style that is draw­ing cheers in­stead of boos in­side Pauley Pavil­ion. Their points were the most the team has scored this sea­son.

“This pace sort of fits our play­ing style a lit­tle more,” Bernard said. “We’re ac­tive scor­ers and like to get the ball out and run. When we have that sort of free­dom, we play more like our­selves.”

UCLA (9-6, 2-0 Pac-12) used a 12-2 run to go up 72-58, with Brown and Smith com­bin­ing to score 10 of the 12 points.

Cal (5-9, 0-2) got within four early in the sec­ond half, but the Golden Bears

were never any closer. They haven’t won at UCLA since Feb. 11, 2012, a span of six straight losses.

Dar­ius McNeill scored 23 points to lead Cal. Jus­tice Sue­ing added 18 points and nine re­bounds. Sue­ing made all eight of his free throws, while the Bears were 21 of 25 from the line.

Bears coach Wyk­ing Jones shook up the lineup, start­ing four re­serves along with Juh­wan Har­risDyson.

“Guys think that their start­ing po­si­tions are some­thing that is given to them. I wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Jones said. “The guys that started have been work­ing hard and giv­ing us great things in prac­tice.”

Af­ter Cal opened a seven-point lead to start the game, the Bru­ins set­tled down. They ripped off 10 points in a row to take the lead for good. Prince Ali’s one-handed dunk off Singleton’s steal closed out the first half with the Bru­ins lead­ing 50-42.

BIG PIC­TURE

Cal­i­for­nia: The Bears need to re­group af­ter giv­ing up 82 points in a loss at USC and 98 to UCLA. Af­ter hav­ing two games with dou­ble-digit turnovers last sea­son, they com­mit­ted 19 against the Bru­ins.

UCLA: The Bru­ins are play­ing at a faster speed un­der Bar­tow, and they ap­pear much more en­er­gized. They’ve topped 90 points in both games un­der him. Their next test comes with a three-game road trip to the Ore­gon schools and ri­val USC.

MESSY

The Bru­ins com­mit­ted 22 turnovers – two short of their sea­son high – and Bar­tow sees it as a re­sult of their sped-up play.

“We’re try­ing to run on makes and misses,” he said. “A lot of things we’ve got to clean up.”

VANOVER’S BACK

Cal’s Con­nor Vanover tied his ca­reer high with 10 points and four re­bounds in his sec­ond game since re­turn­ing from a con­cus­sion and bro­ken nose Dec. 15. Against USC on Thurs­day, the 7-foot-3 for­ward had 10 points and three blocked shots.

“Hon­estly, I was pretty fa­tigued,” he said. “I just have to get my min­utes back up.”

AUSTIN OUT

The Bears didn’t have guard Paris Austin, who was hurt in prac­tice Fri­day. He had 13 points, five re­bounds and six as­sists against USC.

“We turned the ball over 19 times. You don’t do that with him in the lineup,” Jones said.

UP NEXT

Cal­i­for­nia: Hosts Ari­zona State on Wed­nes­day. UCLA: Vis­its Ore­gon on Thurs­day.

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ AP

UCLA guard Prince Ali cel­e­brates af­ter dunk­ing dur­ing the first half against Cal on Satur­day in Los An­ge­les. The Bru­ins won 98-83.

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ AP

Cal­i­for­nia guard Dar­ius McNeill drives to the bas­ket as UCLA guard Chris Smith de­fends dur­ing the first half Satur­day in Los An­ge­les. UCLA beat Cal 98-83.

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