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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

UCLA in China, Day 3: Bruins flex their muscles in opening game of the trip

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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UCLA rides to its first game on a slightly dented bus (via @UCLAMBB)

As UCLA players chatted or listened to music during a Saturday afternoon bus ride through Beijing, a jolt from behind briefly interrupted them.

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UCLA shakes hands with the opposition after its win (via @UCLAMBB)

Another bus rear-ended theirs in a crowded intersection, a very minor accident since traffic was going less than 10 miles per hour but one that caused a short delay as the two drivers blocked traffic while sorting out what happened.

Luckily for the Bruins, their first game later that night went much more smoothly. UCLA demolished host Tsinghua University 116-68, shooting 64.9 percent from the floor, dishing out 30 assists compared to five turnovers and displaying the sort of offensive firepower often lacking the past few seasons.

With star freshman Shabazz Muhammad back in Los Angeles awaiting clearance from the NCAA, UCLA started Larry Drew II at point guard, Tyler Lamb and Kyle Anderson on the wings and the Wear twins in the paint. Anderson performed well in his debut posting 11 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. The UCLA frontcourt trio of Joshua Smith and the Wear twins dominated inside, combining for 59 points on an astonishing 28 of 31 from the floor.

David Wear's 22 points and 15 rebounds were both game highs for UCLA. In Saturday's UCLA in China diary entry, Wear reacted to his strong performance, the team's improved camaraderie and the excitement of seeing dozens of UCLA fans show up to a pregame meet-and-greet at the team's Beijing hotel Friday night.

David Wear (@DavidWear12):

That was really cool, just to see how many people affiliated with UCLA, as either fans or alumns, are living in Beijing right now. It's great to see that these people want to come out and support UCLA and our basketball team. We really appreciate the support of our fans here. It's fun to see other people who went to UCLA. We met a lot of cool, interesting people. I love seeing how excited that they are to see us here, to see us play in China. That was a cool experience, knowing that they're going to be able to come watch us play in Beijing.

It was really exciting [to finally play]. Even the two weeks leading up to this trip, we knew that we have a special team. We have meshed together really well and now we are able to see how well we can off of each other. It is so exciting to see how we played the way we did. Everyone was having a great time. Everyone was making the extra pass. I don't recall anybody forcing a shot throughout the entire game.

There are a lot of things that we can take away from this game. We really want to push the ball, and I thought we did that well tonight. That's exactly how we want to play. I thought that we did a great job finishing around the rim. We stayed aggressive. Defensively, we would like to stay out of foul trouble so that we can play more man-to-man, but the foul situation is largely out of our control.

When we come off the bench and somebody has an exciting dunk, we'll talk about who is getting the next one, kind of like 'You haven't got one yet, so you're getting the next one.' It's fun to be a part of and we like to look for each other. We know that if somebody hasn't gotten a dunk yet, then we will look for them. It's a good thing. We are such a tight-knit family and we get along so well together, it's great to be a part of a team like this.

Previously in the UCLA in China series:

UCLA in China, Day 1: Bruins arrive in Beijing after grueling travel day

UCLA in China, Day 2: Joshua Smith is an instant hit in hoops-crazed Beijing

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