UCLA gets big win vs. Oregon State as final home game of the season looms

The UCLA Bruins had a balanced performance on Thurday night, scoring a 75-68 win over Oregon State to get back on the winning track.

The Bruins, who sit at 18-8 overall, had won four in a row before losing at Arizona State on Saturday. They now sit tied with cross-town rival USC for second in the league behind Arizona. The Bruins jumped out to an early lead, and were able sustean the  lead after Oregon State put up a valiant comeback.

Here are the final statistics, via ESPN.

3 that mattered:

Thomas Welsh: The senior was his consistent-self, finishing with 15 points and pulling down a career-high 17 rebounds. He shot 7-for 12 from the field and added two blocks. While the 17 rebounds was nice, the most impressive part was that nine were on the offensive end. He consistently kept possessions alive and was able to convert some of the rebounds into easy buckets.

Aaron Holiday: While he didn’t have his best shooting night (4-for 13), he too contributed a double-double by dropping in 17 points and dishing out 10 assists. Whenever Oregon State began to close the gap, it was Holiday who came up with a big play. As if we’d expect anything less from the star point guard.

Alfred Hollins: Making only the third start of his career, the freshman forward from San Francisco was the best player on the floor tonight, pouring in a game-high 24 points for the Beavers and establishing himself as a potential force for years. He’s got a silky jumper and long arms and was able to get easy baskets with his creativity in the lane. It’s another lost season for Oregon State, but they may have a star on their hands.

3 things we learned

The bench is developing

Every single one of UCLA’s players cored at least four points Thursday night, and it looks as if head coach Steve Alford has settled on an eight-man rotation. Prince Ali scored 11 points off the bench, Alex Olesinski had eight big rebounds, and Chris Smith had four points in limited action. If foul trouble hits or there’s a significant injury, Alford has guys now that he’ll be able to trust to steal some minutes.

Saturday’s game is incredibly important

The Bruins face Oregon at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday in what is the last home game of the season, and senior night for Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman. More importantly, it’s a game the Bruins desperately need to win to maintain their “for now” place safely in the tournament field. After the Oregon game, the Bruins finish the season with road trips to Utah, Colorado and USC. Winning every game is important at this point in the season, but winning your home games is a must.

Rebounding cures all ills

The Bruins outrebounded the Beavers 51-33, which was good because the team shot only 19 percent from three-point range. In March, if you don’t hit your shots, you’re unlikely to win. But at least you have a better chance if you crash the boards, which UCLA did with 18 offensive rebounds in the game. Moving forward, this needs to be the attitude for everyone on the floor. It’s the key statistic in the Oregon State and the main reason the Bruins were able to pull out a win.

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