UCLA starts off 3-for-20 from the floor and falls down by 8 to the worst team in the league before a 37-to-12 spurt allows them to BeatSC, for the third time this season, 55-40, and advance to the Second Round of the Pac-12 Tournament, while the trojans go home for good with an all-time record 26 losses including the last 10 games in a row
This would have been the worst loss in UCLA history. If the Bruins did not come back — If they had allowed the horrible, horrible u$c team to knock them out of the Pac-12 Tournament, it would have been Open Season on Head Coach Ben Howland, and I don’t know that I would have wanted to stop the outrage. But now, with the tragedy averted, maybe the game will serve as a warning (and a kick in the ass) to the players to be MORE ready to play, as the Tourney continues.
UCLA came out for this do-or-die game in Staples Center with hustle, playing hard and diving for loose balls, but they left their shooting touch down Figueroa at the Sports Arena. They couldn’t hit anything, even missing an uncontested Slam Dunk. Meanwhile, the always-poor shooting trojans weren’t faring much better, but they got enough balls through the hoop to take a 21-13 lead more than halfway through the First Half. That’s when the Bruins finally snapped out of their cold spell. Lazeric Jones started it up with 5 quick points, and the Bruins edged ahead 22-21 at the Break.
The Bruin onslaught continued when play resumed, with shots starting to fall from outside, and paths to the basket finally starting to open up. Before the trojans could gets their wits about them, it was 50-33. To their credit, the trojans didn’t quit. They managed to whittle the 17-point lead back down to 11, but UCLA didn’t lose their poise, and kept the lead in double-digits the rest of the way.
The Bruins now face a REAL team, with a Thursday afternoon match-up against Arizona looming. The Bruins should have Josh Smith back for the whole game, after he sat out Wednesday’s 1st Half after being 4 minutes late for the team bus. Who says Howland doesn’t discipline his players? Smith was mostly ineffective, but he did make a lay-up during the crucial 2nd Half run. He picked up 3 fouls, and played only 8 minutes, but that could be a blessing in disguise, as the Bruins play in back-to-back games. And if they get by Arizona, it will be back-to-back-to-back, and if they beat (probably) Washington, it will be 4 games in 4 days, so Smith’s energy levels could be a huge factor.
Speaking of discipline, Arizona will be without their starting Point Guard Josiah Turner, who has been suspended. The Wildcats and Bruins looked pretty even in splitting their two games this season, so maybe Turner’s absence — and an L.A. venue — will give UCLA the edge that they need to advance… but they’ll need to get off to a MUCH better start than they did on Wednesday, and David Wear will have to improve on his 2-for-12 shooting performance, or they will have virtually no chance at all.
About 3 hours after the Bruins BeatSC, a Bruin star from the past had a shining moment in the Pro’s: With 0.2 seconds left in the Nets’ game against the Clippers, with New Jersey trailing by 2 points, Jordan Farmar lined up a long three-pointer, and swished it to BeatLA.