UCLA concludes a three-game, season-opening homestand on Wednesday when the Bruins welcome Long Island to Los Angeles.
UCLA (2-0) closed its 68-50 win last Friday against Lafayette with a 34-7 run, rallying from a nine-point deficit to take control in the nonconference matchup. The Bruins scored 19 points off 14 Leopards turnovers, which included four steals by Lazar Stefanovic.
Stefanovic was also one of three Bruins to score in double figures with 11 points. Starter Dylan Andrews and reserve Sebastian Mack each scored 18 points.
Adem Bona, who opened the season with 28 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots in UCLA’s 75-44 rout of Saint Francis on Nov. 6, finished with just six points on 1-of-7 shooting against Lafayette.
Bruins coach Mick Cronin attributed that to the Leopards’ defense sagging into the paint.
“Every game is different,” Cronin said in his postgame press conference. “(Lafayette was) going to pack it in, somebody (on the perimeter)’s got to knock some shots in. But I think we got in transition. I would say that’s what helped our offense.”
In Wednesday’s game against Long Island — UCLA’s last before competing in the loaded field of the Maui Invitational, beginning Monday vs. No. 4 Marquette — the Bruins will see a defense off to early struggles.
The Sharks (0-2) opened their season with losses of 82-67 last Friday at home against Air Force and 88-53 on Monday at Pepperdine.
Long Island has surrendered 45.2 percent shooting from 3-point range in its first two games, which extended its losing streak to 10 games dating back to last season. The Sharks come into UCLA ranked No. 348 in Division I for adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.com metrics.
Long Island is in its second season with longtime NBA star Rod Strickland as coach. This season’s roster features Strickland’s sons Terell, a transfer from James Madison, and Tai, who played last season at Georgia Southern.
“I was going in (the transfer portal) for one reason and one reason only. I didn’t really even want to test the waters,” Tai Strickland said, per liuathletics.com, referring to his decision to join his father and brother.
Tai Strickland scored 10 points Monday in his Long Island debut. Terell Strickland has totaled 21 points through the first two games, second to R.J. Greene’s 26 points. Greene leads the Sharks in both scoring (13 points per game) and rebounding (8.5 per game).
–Field Level Media
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