LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jaylen Hands scored 22 points to lead three freshmen in double figures, and No. 23 UCLA defeated South Carolina State 96-68 on Friday night for its third straight win despite a depleted roster.
Hands and fellow freshman Kris Wilkes broke the game open to start the second half for the Bruins (3-0). They scored 17 of the team’s first 19 points to extend a six-point lead to 59-44.
Hands had two highlight reel dunks, one in each half. Both were generated when he stole the ball and cruised to the rim for one-handed jams.
Freshman Chris Smith added 15 points. Wilkes finished with 14 points, and Thomas Welsh added 13 points and 15 rebounds in their second game as part of the Hall of Fame Classic.
UCLA is playing with an eight-man roster since freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were indefinitely suspended on Wednesday after confessing to shoplifting during the team’s season-opening trip to China last week.
Donte Wright scored 23 points, hitting six 3-pointers, to lead the Bulldogs (0-4), who kept it close in the game’s first 9 minutes.
Then the Bruins started clicking offensively and went on a 20-5 run to take a 36-23 lead. Five players scored in the spurt, with Aaron Holiday, Prince Ali and Alex Olesinski hitting 3-pointers as the Bruins ran off 12 points in a row.
The Bulldogs answered by outscoring UCLA 12-1 to close to 37-35. The Bruins got a basket and a dunk by Wilkes to lead 41-35 at halftime.
UCLA ran off 14 straight points in the second half despite struggling at the free throw line again. They made 12 of 24 in the game.
Hands closed the game on a tear, scoring 12 points in the final minutes. He hit a 3-pointer and dished off to Wilkes for a dunk, too.
South Carolina State has lost to Wisconsin, Boston College, Yale and UCLA in its first four games by an average of 33.5 points. Picked to finish just seventh in the MEAC, the Bulldogs are playing without senior F Tashombe Riley, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. He was their top returning scorer, having averaged 11.4 points last season.
After winning its first two games by a combined eight points, UCLA got a blowout victory on its home court. All eight players scored, with the bulk of the points coming from Hands, Smith and Wilkes.
After four straight road games to open the season, South Carolina State returns home to host Central Arkansas on Tuesday. The Bears lost 106-101 in overtime at UCLA on Wednesday.
UCLA hits the road for Kansas City on Monday when the Bruins will play Creighton in the championship rounds of the Hall of Fame Classic.
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