After winning the Pac-12 tournament title, South Region No. 4 UCLA entered the NCAA tournament with hopes of making a deep run. The debut in San Diego wasn’t the most consistent, but the Bruins finished the game on a 17-2 run as they put away No. 13 Tulsa by the final score of 76-59. Led by Jordan Adams, who finished the game with 21 points and eight rebounds, UCLA shot 46% from the field on the night and assisted on 17 of their 29 made baskets.
The Bruins took care of business despite an off night from sophomore guard Kyle Anderson, who committed five turnovers and shot just 3-for-11 from the field. Anderson did contribute in other areas, as he accounted for six rebounds, six assists and four steals to go along with his eight points. But what stood out for UCLA was the fact that multiple players (besides Adams) stepped forward against Tulsa.
Norman Powell, whose emphatic dunk with 1:19 sealed the game, scored 15 points and was also the primary defender assigned to James Woodard, Tulsa’s leading scorer. Averaging 15.7 points per game on the season, Woodard finished the game with 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting. UCLA also received solid contributions from forwards Tony Parker and Travis Wear, with the former supplying 11 points and six rebounds off the bench and the latter scoring ten points on 5-for-5 shooting.
Given the skill level of both Adams and Anderson it’s a safe bet that those two will be productive on most nights. But for UCLA to make the most of its NCAA tournament experience, it can’t be a two-man show. Powell’s been much improved this season, and freshman guards Bryce Alford and Zach LaVine are both talented enough to contribute as well. If the UCLA supporting cast can show up consistently, the Bruins have a greater chance of being successful.
Next up for UCLA is No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, which eliminated No. 5 VCU in the first game of the night session. That will be a difficult matchup regardless of the seeding, with the Lumberjacks having won 29 straight games on the strength of a balanced offensive attack and a stout half-court defense. UCLA will certainly need a more productive Anderson, but Friday’s performance served as a reminder that there are others capable of helping the stars carry the load when needed.