Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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No. 3 UCLA Routs Arizona State 102-80 Behind 3-point barrage
By BETH HARRISLOS ANGELES (AP) — Like any shooter in a slump, Isaac Hamilton just kept putting the ball up, figuring it would eventually go in.
Did it ever.
The senior guard scored 33 points — three off his career best — and hit a career-high nine 3-pointers to help No. 3 UCLA rout Arizona State 102-80 on Thursday night.
The Bruins improved to 11-0 at home.
The performance left Hamilton speechless. He cut his tongue in the game and needed stitches afterward, leaving him unavailable to talk to media.
“He’s back,” guard Lonzo Ball said. “I like playing with him like that.”
The Bruins (19-1, 6-1 Pac-12) made 16 3-pointers and shot 60 percent from the field.
Last year if Hamilton wasn’t hitting, the Bruins found it hard to recover on their way to a losing season.
Now, the team is loaded with offensive threats who can pick up the slack for him.
“He gained a lot of confidence in that and he got it rolling,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “The guys did a good job of finding him. That’s what makes us hard to guard. We can make shots a variety of different ways.”
The Bruins led by 25 points in the first half and were up by 16 early in the second before the Sun Devils (9-10, 2-4) got within single digits in the matchup of the league’s top two scoring and 3-point shooting teams.
“We started slow but fought back,” said Torian Graham, who led Arizona State with 26 points. “We overcame adversity and I think we showed we can play with anybody. After we cut it to seven, we didn’t get stops and they got a lot of open looks. They’re very good in transition and that was the difference.”
TJ Leaf added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Ball had 10 points and 12 assists for the Bruins.
“It’s always good to see Isaac shoot well,” said Aaron Holiday, who added 13 points. “That’s a big part of his game and I’m glad he finally got it going.”
Tra Holder tied his career-high with 22 points for Arizona State, which has lost seven straight road games to UCLA. The Sun Devils hit 11 3-pointers, including six by Graham.
Graham scored 10 of Arizona State’s first 22 points in the second half to close to 68-61.
The Bruins’ offense kicked in and they ran off 14 straight points to go up 82-61. Holiday scored eight points, including two 3-pointers, in the spurt.
“It was cool to come back on them, but I didn’t get the result I wanted,” Holder said. “We gave up too many easy baskets. They are a fast team and they score before you know it. The game should not have ended like it did. We cut it to seven, but then they went to a zone and we got all discombobulated.”
The Sun Devils dropped their third straight and fourth in five games.
BIG PICTUREArizona St.: The Sun Devils play at Southern California before returning home to face the Washington schools. After that, they have a road game against No. 11 Oregon and will face the Bruins once more in February.
UCLA: The Bruins again built a big lead only to see it dwindle to single digits, a habit that has dogged them at times this season. “We got to start picking things up and stop having those 10 minutes where we don’t do too much,” Ball said.
TIDBITSArizona St.: Holder joined the 1,000-point club with 1,005 in his first three years.
UCLA: The Bruins had 30 assists for the first time since Feb. 23, 1995, when they had 32 in a win over California. … They have six players averaging double-figure scoring. … UCLA’s 19-1 start is its best since going 21-1 to begin the 1991-92 season.
UP NEXTArizona St.: Visits Southern California on Sunday to end a stretch of playing five of its first seven Pac-12 games on the road.
UCLA: Hosts No. 14 Arizona on Saturday in game featuring the Bruins’ No. 1 offense in the Pac-12 against the Wildcats’ No. 1 defense.
(AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.