Bryce Alford

Isaac Hamilton, Jay Hedgeman
Associated Press

Alford scores 27, No. 22 UCLA tops Louisiana-Lafayette 89-80

Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) Bryce Alford scored a season-high 27 points for No. 22 UCLA as the short-handed Bruins posted their fifth consecutive victory, holding off Louisiana-Lafayette 89-80 Tuesday night.

UCLA (8-3) played minus starting center Thomas Welsh, out with a stomach virus, and reserve Prince Ali, who bruised his left knee against Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Tony Parker and Isaac Hamilton each added 19 points for the Bruins.

Shawn Long contributed 26 points and 16 rebounds for Louisiana-Lafayette (3-5), which fell to 0-5 on the road this season.

For Long, it was his fifth double-double of the season. The 6-foot-11 senior is the NCAA Division I active leader in double-doubles (57) and total rebounds (1,117).

Kasey Shepherd scored 15 points and Jay Wright added 14 for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

The Bruins shot a season-best 55.4 percent from the field. Their previous best was 52.8 percent in their upset victory over then-No. 1 Kentucky two weeks ago.

UCLA, which led by as many as 19 in the first half, saw Louisiana-Lafayette pull within 63-59 with 10:13 to play.

The Bruins responded with an 11-2 spurt to lead 74-61, only to see the Ragin’ Cajuns close to 79-73 on Long’s 3-pointer with 2:17 to play.

UCLA made 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute for the victory.

The second half was refereed by two officials, David Hall and Marques Pettigrew, after referee Eric Curry left at halftime with an undisclosed injury.

TIP-INS

Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin’ Cajuns, coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons, entered the game ranked third among NCAA Division I programs in scoring, averaging 90.0 points per game, having already eclipsed the century mark twice this season.

UCLA: With Welsh out, coach Steve Alford was forced to change his starting lineup for the first time this season. He replaced Welsh with 6-10 sophomore Jonah Bolden. … The Bruins cracked the AP Top 25 poll for the first time this season, boosted by two victories in nine days over ranked opponents, Kentucky 87-77 on Dec. 3 and No. 20 Gonzaga 71-66 on Saturday night.

NEXT UP

Louisiana-Lafayette: At Pepperdine on Friday.

UCLA: Vs. North Carolina on Saturday in New York.

Addition of freshman guards could help Bryce Alford’s scoring

alford
1 Comment

Bryce Alford was second on UCLA in scoring at 15.4 points per game.

He’ll return in an even bigger role this season with Norman Powell having graduated. However, he should benefit from the addition of two heralded guards joining the program.

Prince Ali and Aaron Holiday, two four-star guards, were the prize recruits in in Steve Alford’s Class of 2015. On Monday, the UCLA coach spoke to reporters, and according to Zach Helfand of the Los Angeles Times, Alford praised the two first-year guards, saying they were both, “way ahead of it physically, more physically ready to play college basketball than most guards are.”

Last season, the Bruins back court was overworked with Alford, Powell and Isaac Hamilton all logging between 34 and 36 minutes a night. The lack of guards meant Alford had the ball in his hands the majority of the time. That should change with Ali and Holiday, the younger brother of former UCLA point guard Jrue Holiday.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Bryce Alford is most productive in catch-and-shoot opportunities, but he rarely operated without the ball last season. With Holiday as an additional point-guard option, Alford should be free to try to score more.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” Steve Alford said. “I think what we’ve seen in the summer has given us an awful lot of confidence that that can happen.”

The UCLA front court is also gaining some much-needed support. Jonah Bolden will make his collegiate debut after being he was not cleared by the NCAA last fall. The 6-foot-9 forward is coming off of knee surgery this past May. Bolden will join Tony Parker and sophomores Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman. The frontline also adds the other two members of the Class of 2015: Ikenna Okwarabizie and Alex Olesinski.

The UCLA front court will be mostly inexperienced, meaning the Bruins will once again rely on the guards. But this time around they’ll have depth in that department.

UCLA begins the season on Nov. 13 against Monmouth.

NBC SportsWorld: Bryce Alford on life as a coach’s son

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Back in June, I flew out to Los Angeles to attend the Nike Basketball Academy.

In my downtime, however, I made my way over to UCLA’s Westwood campus to spend some time with Bryce Alford, the star point guard for the Bruins and the son of the program’s head coach, Steve Alford.

That conversation turned into a wide-ranging story — published over on NBC SportsWorld — where we talked about the rivalries within the family, how Bryce ended up playing for his dad, the criticism he receives for playing “Daddy-Ball” and what it’s like being a coach’s son.

The Alford family was open and honest, and the way they view their status is interesting.

You can read the full story here.