November 7, 2018 / 4:25 AM / 3 months ago

Wilkes scores 27, leads No. 21 UCLA past Fort Wayne

EditorsNote: updates to “25 points” in third graf; fixes “Holiday” in sixth graf; updates stats in eighth and ninth grafs

Sophomore guard Kris Wilkes scored a career-high 27 points, and freshman center Moses Brown had 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as No. 21 UCLA cruised to a 96-71 nonconference victory over Purdue Fort Wayne in the season opener for both teams Tuesday at Los Angeles.

Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands scored 18 points and had seven assists for the Bruins, who improved to 5-1 in season-opening games under head coach Steve Alford.

Senior guard John Konchar scored 25 points for Purdue Fort Wayne, which fell to 1-17 all time against nationally ranked opponents. Junior forward Matt Holba added 12 points for the Mastodons, who are coming off an 18-15 season, when they finished fourth in the Summit League with a 7-7 record.

Konchar, a three-time all-Summit League first-team selection, averaged 14.8 points per game last season. The 6-foot-5 West Chicago, Ill., native also had eight rebounds and six assists Tuesday. Konchar entered the season as the only active player in Division I with 1,400 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals.

Wilkes’ point total surpassed his previous high of 22 that came in last year’s regular-season finale against USC. That victory ultimately helped the Bruins advance to the NCAA Tournament with a 21-12 record, but they lost in a First Four game to St. Bonaventure. Wilkes also had 10 rebounds Tuesday.

UCLA lost three key rotation players from last year’s squad, including Pac-12 Conference leading scorer Aaron Holiday, but still returned five major contributors. The 7-foot-1 Brown, who was 9 of 10 from the field, is one of eight freshmen, two of whom are redshirts.

The Bruins were never threatened, shooting 58 percent from the field in the first half while taking a 48-31 lead. UCLA sophomore guard Chris Smith had 13 points overall.

UCLA took advantage of its size to control the rebounding battle with a 52-28 advantage. Eight of the 16 players on the Bruins’ roster are 6-foot-8 or taller, including three who are 6-foot-10 or taller.

The Mastodons took their chances from distance, shooting 37 3-point attempts. They made just nine, good for 24.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Purdue Fort Wayne fell to 0-6 all time against Pac-12 Conference opponents, all on the road. It was its first-ever meeting with UCLA.

—Field Level Media

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