Ali, Wilkes lead Bruins to rout of Rainbow Warriors
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Prince Ali slammed a one-handed dunk over 7-foot Dawson Carper and gave a look in the direction of Lonzo Ball sitting baseline.
Ball, the one-and-done UCLA star now with the Los Angeles Lakers, nodded.
“That’s my guy,” Ali said.
Ball and Indiana Pacers Aaron Holiday, TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu returned to their old stomping grounds to see UCLA dismantle the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team 80-61 on Wednesday. They visited the locker room before the game, even though only two current Bruins were on the same team as any of them.
“They’re keeping an eye on us,” Jaylen Hands said. “Them being there meant a lot to us.”
Ali scored a career-high 23 points and the Bruins (5-2) rebounded from consecutive losses to ranked opponents.
Kris Wilkes added 16 points for the Bruins, who made 10 3-pointers. Hands had a career-high 11 of UCLA’s 16 assists.
“We all feed off the point guard,” Wilkes said of Hands. “When he’s making moves, we just fall right behind him. It’s hard to beat us when we’re all playing together.”
The Bruins led by 20 points in the first half, when Ali didn’t miss a shot. He made all six of his field-goal attempts and was 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
“I’ve been working on my game and it showed tonight,” Ali said.
UCLA opened the game on an 18-5 run, hitting four of its eight first-half 3-pointers during the stretch.
“They really set the tone early with their shooting,” Hawaii coach Eran Ganot said. “They have really good depth.”
Wilkes had a highlight dunk with a one-handed jam late in the first half after 7-1 freshman Moses Brown and Jalen Hill dunked. Brown finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
“They have talent from positions one through eight and they have guys that come off the bench and there’s no drop-off,” the Rainbow Warriors’ Jack Purchase said.
Owen Hulland scored 14 points for Hawaii (4-4) in the first meeting in 18 years between the teams. The Rainbow Warriors’ first eight games have all been decided by double digits, with the Bruins handing them their worst loss so far.
Purchase and Brocke Stepteau added 10 points each for UH, which was held to 27 percent shooting in the first half.
The Rainbow Warriors return home to play seven straight home games after concluding a 1-3 road trip. They next host Hawaii-Hilo on Dec. 8.