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NCAA Basketball Pac 12 BasketballUCLA Bruins

The UCSB Gauchos Expose UCLA Bruins’ Zone Defense

Alan Williams

Richard Mackson- USA TODAY Sports

If there is a weakness of the UCLA Bruins, the University of California at Santa Barbara Gauchos exploited it in Pauley Pavilion. That weakness is the zone defense they have to play to hide non-defenders like Zach LaVine, Bryce Alford and Norman Powell. The 2-3 zone that coach Steve Alford played against the Gauchos was simply, not working.

The Gauchos torched the Bruins from deep with guards like Kyle Boswell, Michael Bryson and Zalmico Harmon — even forward Taran Brown got into the mix, shooting 33 percent from three-point land on six attempts. The three guards combined for 19 attempts and 10 makes, a hot night for the Gauchos.

This game was more about the team Santa Barbara, not Westwood. The Gauchos played out of their minds against the Bruins.

Despite the score, it was a moral victory for the 3-point laden squad. The Gauchos had three players in double figures: Boswell, Bryson and Alan Williams. Bryson was the only player with a double-double, grabbing 10 boards with his 15 points. Boswell finished with 18 points with five 3-pointers and Williams finished with 23 points and eight rebounds.

When push came to shove, the Bruins scored when they needed to. They attacked center Williams to get the points they needed to survive an upset on their home court. Down the stretch, the Bruins used hack-an-Allen strategy as he went 3-of-7 from the line.

A bright spot for UCLA was sophomore guard Joseph Adams’ aggressive mentality. He attempted 12 free throws on the night and made nine. However, he struggled from the floor as he shot less than 50 percent on 12 shots. It took the Bruins almost 30 minutes to figure out how to stop the long-range artillery that the Gauchos were shooting with.

The Bruins won 89-76 against the Gauchos, but it exposed a defense that the California Bears will expose to greater efficiency. UCLA could be on upset alert if they do not fix this problem soon.

John Lloyd is a PAC-12 Basketball Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHLloydIII