UCLA ran away from the Washington men’s basketball team in the opening minutes and handing the Huskies a humiliating 107-66 defeat.
The Markelle Fultz-Lonzo Ball showdown that everyone came to see never materialized — not really.
No. 11 UCLA had a lot do with that while running away from the Washington men’s basketball team in the opening minutes and handing the Huskies a humiliating 107-66 defeat — their most lopsided loss in 15 years.
“UCLA obviously is a very good basketball team. I don’t feel like that was our basketball team tonight,” said Lorenzo Romar, who suffered his worst defeat as UW coach. “I didn’t recognize our team tonight.”
In front of 10,000 at Alaska Airlines Arena and the first sellout in five years, the Huskies (9-14, 2-9 Pac-12) were embarrassed like no other team in Romar’s tenure.
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UCLA’s 107 points are the seventh-highest for a UW opponent and the most in 19 years.
It was an inexplicable lackluster outing for the Huskies after a pair of games in which they managed to capture halftime leads in losing efforts.
“We dropped more games than we would have liked, obviously, but our team tonight was different,” Romar said. “We just didn’t seem to have the fight in us tonight to really fight back and challenge a very potent offensive team in UCLA.”
Any chance Washington had at pulling off an upset evaporated early when UCLA raced out to an 18-4 lead, which buried UW in a deep hole and took the crowd out of the game.
The Huskies also did themselves no favors when they missed 10 of their first 12 shots and were careless with the ball. Down 14, they had five turnovers and just four points.
“We could have played a little harder, but I don’t think we started out slow,” Fultz said. “Our shots just weren’t falling at the beginning. We were getting the open shots and layups and stuff like that. … It was just one of those nights.”
Washington trailed 52-34 at halftime and never got any closer than 15 points in the second half.
“I’m pretty optimistic, and overall tonight I just didn’t see a whole lot that we could applaud,” Romar said. “We weren’t in long enough stretches to be able to applaud. We didn’t take care of the ball at all. We just didn’t do a lot of good things.”
Meanwhile, Fultz and Ball displayed flashes of brilliance for the 21 NBA scouts on hand and provided evidence as to why they’re projected to be the top two picks in the 2017 draft.
Fultz finished with 25 points, six rebounds, five assists and five turnovers, while Ball had 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and three turnovers.
They spent only a few possessions matched up against each other due to both teams’ heavy reliance on zone defenses.
The star-studded freshman point guards provided a few moments of excitement when they traded three-pointers early in the second half.
Ball went first with a long-range dagger that put UCLA ahead 63-40 with 17:11 remaining.
Fultz countered with a three and Ball replied with another rainbow from downtown that pushed UCLA back ahead by 23 points.
After a Bryce Alford three-pointer, Fultz capped the three-point flurry with one more jumper behind the arc to the delight of the crowd.
“He is terrific,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said about Ball. “Really it doesn’t matter what hype he has as far as matchups and that kind of stuff.
“If you were with us the last two days, it is the same Lonzo each and every day. Lonzo just does what Lonzo does and that is prepare his team the best he can and do the things that he does to make everybody else better. He made a lot of guys better tonight.”
The Bruins entered the game averaging a Pac-12-best 92.3 points that ranked second in the nation, and the Huskies did nothing to slow them down.
UCLA shot 60.6 percent from the field — the most for a UW opponent this season — and 45.5 percent on three-pointers.
The Bruins exploited the soft middle of UW’s 2-3 zone with Ball’s floaters and midrange jumpers from T.J. Leaf, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
When the Huskies compensated and tightened the zone to shut down the middle, Alford (21 points) unloaded 5 of 8 three-pointers.
Aaron Holiday added 20 points and Isaac Hamilton had 10 for UCLA (21-3, 8-3).
Noah Dickerson (10 points) was the only other UW player besides Fultz with double-digit scoring.
As bad as Saturday night was for the Huskies, Romar intimated things could get worse during this week’s road trip to Colorado and Utah.
“It’s really going to be a test of the character of our team,” he said.
Romar, whose 10-year contract expires in 2020, also spent a several minutes of his postgame interview answering questions about his job status that has become a hot-button topic among UW fans.
“That has not been indicated to me by the people that I work for,” Romar said. “At the same time, as head basketball coach or as a leader of whatever group you’re leading, it all stops and ends with the leader. If the job is not getting done the leader has to own up to it, and I’m owning up to it.”
|Worst UW losses|
|The Huskies have allowed more points only six times.|
|120–90||at Arizona State||Dec. 22, 1988|
|116–61||at Arizona||Dec. 20, 1988|
|112–81||at Arizona||Feb. 5, 1998|
|110–71||Arizona||Dec. 20, 1987|
|110–91||Arizona||Jan. 10, 1998|
|109–70||at UCLA||Feb. 12, 1972|
|107-66||UCLA||Feb. 4, 2017|
|106–66||Oregon State||Feb. 18, 1989|
|Source: UW record book|