LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bryce Alford scored 16 of his 24 points in a dominant first half, TJ Leaf had a double-double, and No. 4 UCLA defeated California 81-71 on Thursday night.
Leaf finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double in the Bruins’ fifth straight win over the Golden Bears at Pauley Pavilion. Alford hit five 3-pointers for UCLA (15-1, 2-1 Pac-12).
Grant Mullins scored 19 points, and Ivan Rabb had 17 points and a career-high 20 rebounds for the Bears (10-5, 1-2), who went from being down by 20 with 5 1/2 minutes left to trailing by five.
The Bruins made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 22 seconds.
After a close opening 5 minutes, the Bruins took over. They scored on seven straight possessions in a 16-3 run that extended their lead from one to 14 points. Alford got things going with a 3-pointer and closed the spurt with his fourth consecutive 3.
In between, Leaf and Lonzo Ball put on a show for the second sellout crowd of the season. Leaf dribbled around a Cal defender and went by another for a one-handed dunk. Ball scored off his own steal before Leaf grabbed a defensive rebound and made a layup at the other end. The Bruins shot 71 percent during the spurt that kept them ahead 26-12.
Ball wasn’t done. He dunked off an alley-oop pass from Leaf in a 12-2 run that ended the half. Ball let loose with a 3-pointer from well beyond the line after dribbling the ball behind his back that made it 44-24 at the break. By then, the Bruins’ shooting had cooled to a still solid 52 percent.
California: Rabb became the first Cal player with 20 rebounds since Leon Powe had that many against USC on March 9, 2006. It was Rabb’s fourth straight game with double-digit rebounds. … The Bears allowed 44 points in the first half, the most points they’ve given up in a half this season. … They fell to 3-6 against ranked opponents since the start of the 2015-16 season.
UCLA: Snoop Dogg and Warren G were in the house, along with former Bruin and Clippers starting forward Luc Mbah a Moute.
California: Visits No. 25 Southern California on Sunday, giving the Bears two days in L.A. between games.
UCLA: Hosts Stanford on Sunday.