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    Dylan Andrews has career day as UCLA advances in Pac-12 Tournament
    • March 14, 2024

    LAS VEGAS — He yanked the ball between his legs early in the second half, asserting his presence in one simple step-back move, rising for a jumper with a surplus of confidence and without a shred of hesitation.

    Dylan Andrews, if you haven’t been able to tell, has arrived.

    The UCLA sophomore answered the bell at every turn against a rapidly creeping Oregon State team in the second half, finishing with a career-high 31 points on a lights-out 11-of-15 performance from the field as the fifth-seeded Bruins dispatched the 12th-seeded Beavers 67-57 in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday.

    UCLA (16-16, 11-10 Pac-12) looked all but dead in the water as recently as last Thursday, dropping their fifth game in a row in a rout by Arizona; suddenly, though, with Andrews’ emergence and a two-game win streak, they’ll carry significant momentum into a quarterfinal matchup with fourth-seeded Oregon (20-11, 12-8 Pac-12) on Thursday.

    Andrews ascended to a headlining act all unto himself Wednesday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas, single-handedly lifting a UCLA team that’s been in desperate and Mick-Cronin-expressively dire need of a shot-creator in an up-and-down season. The 6-foot-2 guard controlled the pace, a steady hand for a program whose guards have been consistently erratic, spotting up when needed. And he was electric in simply conjuring offense from chaos, putting a Beavers defender on skates on that second-half possession, nailing a jumper in rhythm and jogging back coolly.

    When the Beavers’ Tyler Bilodeau hit a 3-pointer to cut UCLA’s lead to seven, Andrews responded with a timeout-prompting triple to push it back to 10.

    When Oregon State’s Jordan Pope nailed a three with 10 minutes left to nip the Bruins’ lead to four, Andrews came right back with his fifth triple.

    And as Oregon State mounted one final push, it was Andrews who rose with confidence on the wing – pass-faking to the corner – to deliver the dagger, all but ending the Beavers’ season with his seventh 3-pointer to push UCLA’s lead to 14 with 2:19 left.

    This was not an isolated explosion, Andrews’ growth coming steady, more aggressive and assertive in averaging 18 points and nearly five assists in his last four games entering Wednesday. He showed composure and leadership in crunch-time, putting his arm around Bona and speaking calmly as the power forward went to the free-throw line in the final two minutes, the energetic Bona having just snared a rebound and slapping the ball repeatedly in emphasis.

    And Andrews’ emergence seemed to take offensive pressure off Bona, who struggled with six first-half turnovers but finished with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting, calmer in his second-half decision-making in the post.

    The Bruins’ defense and toughness – their staple through an up-and-down season characterized by some frank Cronin-isms in postgame pressers and a team with precious little shot-creation – thrived in the first half en route to a 34-22 lead at the break. They held Pope, the Beavers’ explosive sparkplug, to just five points on 2-of-7 first-half shooting, and forced two five-second violations on Oregon State, the second immediately followed by Andrews’ third 3-pointer of the half.

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    And UCLA forced two Oregon State turnovers in the final minute of the first half, the first a bad pass from Pope that prompted a hearty flex and a grin from Bona, the second a loose ball from Oregon State’s Dexter Akanno that ended up in Andrews’ hands just before the halftime buzzer.

    Fitting, really, because Andrews dominated the second half the same as the first, scoring 16 after the intermission. UCLA 6-foot-7 freshman Brandon Williams, who’d had a largely quiet season offensively, provided a nice second-half lift with a turnaround jumper and an and-one.

    Pope had 16 points for the Beavers and Bilodeau had 13.

    ​ Orange County Register