LOS ANGELES — Prince Ali pushed the ball ahead to Jaylen Hands. Hands took it and elevated for a two-handed reverse dunk.
Detroit Mercy’s Josh McFolley stood in the corner on the opposite end of the court and scratched his head.
The Titans were reduced to spectators to UCLA’s run-and-gun, dunk contest Sunday night as the Bruins dominated in a 106-73 win at Pauley Pavilion.
On the heels of what head coach Steve Alford called their worst offensive performance of the year, the Bruins (7-1) were on pace to shoot a season-high percentage from the field before emptying their bench late in the game. They tied their season-high in points, set in an overtime win against Central Arkansas, and held the Titans, the seventh-highest scoring team in the country known for a fast pace of play, to 43.1 percent shooting and just two fast-break points.
“I thought it was maybe our most complete game,” Alford said. “I was really pleased with our 40-minute effort.”
Hands led the offensive explosion with a career-high 23 points off the bench with 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Ali added 20 points and four assists.
Coming off the bench for the second straight game due to a left foot sprain, Hands immediately sparked his team. When he checked in at the 15:23 mark of the first half, the Bruins were hanging onto a three-point lead. Eight minutes later, their lead had swelled to 18 points.
The San Diego native turned two steals into transition dunks and made his first five field goal attempts. He had two assists during the run for the Bruins.
Hands’ only misstep was an awkward dunk in the first half on which he was forced to hang onto the rim. He wasn’t sure if he got enough air on the jump as his usual explosiveness still compromised by the foot injury. He was assessed a technical foul for the mistake.
“No more of that,” he said with a bashful smile. “That made me mad.”
With Hands on the court during the first half, UCLA outscored the Titans by 20. Without the McDonald’s All-America point guard, they gave up a three-point advantage.
UCLA was just 2 for 17 from the 3-point line in its last game against Cal State Bakersfield, but made 11 of its 25 shots from long distance Sunday, including 4 of 9 during the second half. Hands led the way with four 3-pointers.
Detroit Mercy (4-4) often sacrificed efficiency for speed on offense and couldn’t keep pace with the Bruins in transition. Despite the fast pace of play, the Bruins had only eight turnovers…