No Fight In Irish, UCLA Cruises To Win

Notre Dame’s basketball team did its part to keep up the school’s new tradition of coming to Southern California and getting crushed by a rival.

The football team has been doing that since Pete Carroll took over the USC program. The UCLA and Notre Dame basketball programs were huge rivals in the John Wooden era.

Today, that rivalry was pretty one sided. UCLA’s pressure defense overwhelmed the Irish, particularly star Luke Harangody, leading to a fast double-digit lead that grew into an 89-63 win for the Bruins. This was the seventh consecutive loss for a Notre Dame team that started the season in the top 20 but is now in free fall.

UCLA’s defense always pressures the other team’s big man, but Harangody could not handle it. He had a couple of quick turnovers that led to fast break scores by the Bruins. That was capped off by a Jrue Holiday steal that led to a thunderous one-hand, alley-oop dunk by Josh Ship that gave the Bruins a fast 11-2 lead.

It continued like that through the first half — UCLA shot 61% in the first 20 minutes and the Irish shot just 41%. At the break the Bruins were up by 16 and the game felt over.

In the second half, Alfred Aboya continued to dominate Harangody. Aboya finished with a team-high 19 points and Darren Collison chipped in 17. By the end Bruins coach Ben Howland had emptied his bench and given the fans quite a show. Harangody finished with five points and four turnovers.

The game was another sign that this Bruins team is starting to really come together and play its best ball heading into March. While some thought this team was a notch below the last three that UCLA and Ben Howland produced (each of which went to the Final Four) it is a team that could peak at just the right time.

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