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December 15, 2013

UCLA breezes through PVAMU

After tallying its first loss of the 2013-14 season, UCLA (9-1) breezed through mid-major Prairie View A&M (2-8) in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday evening with another important matchup on the horizon against Duke.

Despite jumping out to an early lead, the Bruins looked lethargic to start the game, and were a mere six points ahead of the Panthers at the midway point of the first half.

However, freshman guards Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford gave UCLA the boost it needed to break the game open with seven points a piece, sparking a 31-11 run to put the Bruins up 50-24 at the half.

LaVine added a few more clips to his highlight reel with another round of explosive dunks. The electric freshman finished with 10 on the night, marking his eighth-consecutive game with double-figure scoring efforts.

Alford continued his smooth shooting from beyond the arc with a pair of three-pointers that increased his shooting percentage from three-point range to 44.8 percent on the season. The 6-foot-3 freshman guard has now made a three-pointer in nine consecutive games.

UCLA came out of halftime with intensity for the first few minutes, but soon allowed Prairie View to cut a 34-point lead down to 21 with a 14-5 run with 11:11 to play.

"We were lackadaisical in the second half," head coach Steve Alford said. "I was pleased with the way we rebounded and defended. Our defense in the second half got lazy."

UCLA's lead hovered around 20 for the remainder of the second half, and when the final buzzer sounded to end the contest, the scoreboard favored the Bruins by 24, 95-71 - UCLA's ninth victory of the season.

"We definitely are a running team, averaging 90 points a game," Alford said. "We are one of the most efficient offenses. … We are a young basketball team and consistently have a great turnover-to-assist ratio, which is most impressive to me."

Sophomore guard Jordan Adams led all scorers with 18 on a steady 6-for-8 from the field. Four other Bruins joined him in double figures, including senior forward Travis Wear, who put up 10 points in his first start of the season after recovering from appendicitis.

UCLA now turns its focus to No. 8 Duke, whom it'll face on Thursday in Madison Square Garden.

"We're a young team; we must learn and mature," Alford said. "We have a lot of work to do before next week."

"[The Duke game] is a game you think about as a kid. It's going to be a test for our team," added sophomore point guard Kyle Anderson, who finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and three assists on Saturday.

"It is at a neutral site, so we really have to play like we practice. It's going to be great. It's Madison Square Garden, the best basketball arena in America."

Anderson drained another pair of three-pointers against Prairie View to boost his three-point shooting percentage to an even 60 percent (9-for-15) on the season. He is now nine for his last 11 from three-point range after beginning the season at 0-for-4.

The 6-foot-9 guard was a measly 21.1 percent from beyond the arc last season.

"Confidence has been the key," Anderson said of the improvement of his outside shooting.


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