LOS ANGELES (AP) For the second straight game, UCLA started strongly. The fourth-ranked Bruins faltered a bit in the second half again, too.
Lonzo Ball scored 21 points in their 89-75 victory over Stanford on Sunday night.
The Bruins were never in serious trouble, but they showed signs of a letup over the final 20 minutes just as they had against California last Thursday.
“We just got to put two halves together and we’ll be fine,” Ball said. “We’re 16-1 and we still have a high ceiling.”
Bryce Alford added 17 points and TJ Leaf had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins (16-1, 3-1 Pac-12), who improved to 10-0 at Pauley Pavilion. They hit 11 3-pointers, led by Ball and Alford with four apiece.
“The good thing is we’ve seen ourselves get better in a lot of areas from the start of the season to now,” Alford said. “The way we start games has been a lot better. It’s a long season, it’s a grind. We’re not going to be perfect in January. That’s not the goal.”
Michael Humphrey had a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out in the last two minutes for Stanford (8-8, 0-4) in his first double-double of the season.
“It’s special place to have a career high but it would have been better if it were in a win,” Humphrey said. “But we are getting close as a team. We are on the right track. Our second half was the best half that we’ve played in a long while. They may have been the best defensive team that we’ve played this season.”
The Bruins dominated the first half, shooting 53 percent on their way to a 48-30 lead at the break. They made eight 3-pointers in the half, with Ball hitting two in a row and Leaf following with another 1 1/2 minutes into the game.
Stanford shot better in the second half when it outscored UCLA 45-41. The Cardinal cut its deficit from 20 points down to 61-50 on a pair of free throws by Cameron Walker, as close as it would come.
“They made a run in the second half but it was more of us not executing what we wanted defensively,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “We got lazy defensively.”
Not long after, the Bruins pushed their lead back to 19 points on two free throws by Ball that capped a 7-0 run.
Stanford: The Cardinal is struggling mightily, having lost its first four Pac-12 games. The future looks bleak, too, with leading scorer and rebounder Reid Travis out indefinitely with a right shoulder injury sustained in practice earlier in the week.
UCLA: The one-loss Bruins continue to roll along, with six players averaging in double figures. Seven of their eight regular contributors have more assists than turnovers.
Stanford: Cartwright had career highs in points (18), rebounds (5) and (9) assists playing in front of family and friends from his hometown of Pasadena. … Humphrey was called for a technical after he dunked in the first half. … The Cardinal went 0-3 in its stretch of playing three consecutive ranked teams, the first time that’s happened since 2001-02 when Stanford also faced Arizona, USC and UCLA. Back then, the Cardinal lost to the L.A. schools and beat Arizona.
UCLA: The Bruins have won their last 11 home games against Stanford, a streak that began after a 75-64 loss to the Cardinal on Jan. 20, 2005.
Stanford: Hosts Washington State on Thursday
UCLA: Visits Colorado on Thursday in the second league road trip of the season.