UCLA forward David Wear finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds in the exhibition… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
BEIJING -- The last few weeks, Ben Howland has insisted that this season's UCLA basketball team might surprise people.
The Bruins would be much quicker and more explosive, the coach said. They would look to push the ball upcourt for easy points.
So far, so good.
Playing against an undersized and out-manned Tsinghua University on Saturday night in Beijing, UCLA sprinted to a 116-68 victory punctuated by lots of running and slam-dunk finishes.
The win officially started a series of three exhibitions against Chinese college and professional teams over the next few days.
David Wear led the Bruins with 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting and 15 rebounds. Travis Wear and Norman Powell had 19 each. Freshman Kyle Anderson, starting in his first game as a Bruin, had 11 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
"We really tried to push it," Howland said. "I thought we did a great job getting the ball out quickly and sharing it."
Tsinghua was led by Bin Bin Xie with nine points and Cheng Ao Xu with eight.
Free throws were the only thing that kept the home team within 16 points at halftime. Tsinghua would end up making 16 of 35 attempts for the game. UCLA made 11 of 14.
Too many fouls forced the Bruins to switch from man defense to a safer zone. They also got an inconsistent effort from freshman Jordan Adams, who shot the ball well in recent practices but looked jittery Saturday, making only four of 14 attempts.
It didn't matter. In the second half, the lead widened as UCLA's transition game shifted into high gear, converting Tsinghau's misses into quick scores.
Considering the level of competition, no one wanted to read too much into this victory. Still, Howland and his players were happy.
"We were having a great time," David Wear said. "That's how we want to play all year long."
UCLA's trip continues with a game against Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai on Monday night.
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