“Start spreading the noose…”

UCLA coughs up a 14-point, 2nd Half lead in Arizona, hanging themselves with frozen ropes and a trap-door Defense, and dying too young on Drago’s premature foul execution, as the Bruins hang their heads after losing by a neck, 78-73

It’s not a complete and total “choke” when you lose by 5 on the Road to a team that is favored by 5, especially when your line-up is ravaged by injuries and foul trouble.  But when you lead for the whole 1st Half, and for most of the game, and by double-digits around the middle of the 2nd Half, when the opponent’s star Freshman already has 4 fouls, and you squander several chances in the final minutes, it IS in the neighborhood of a choke.

UCLA took an early lead and weathered a 5-minute drought to maintain a lead for the entire 1st Half.  The lead was usually between 7-9, as Michael Roll supplied the Offense, Malcolm Lee chipped in with several driving buckets, and Tyler Honeycutt supplied the Assists, Rebounds, and Blocks to keep the Wildcats down.  With Reeves Nelson and the suspended Bobo Morgan not playing, Brendan Lane got to play a lot, and he contributed, but got in foul trouble.  Foul trouble also severely limited the contributions of Jerime Anderson, who made one important mid-range jumper, but made a few ball-handling mistakes, one of which got him pulled from the game for a while in favor of Mustafa Abdul-Hamid.

The cold-shooting Wildcats were down 39-29 at the Intermission, and let it balloon to 50-36 before the team (and the fans) finally woke up.  Suddenly, Arizona’s Defense turned up the tenacity, and Wildcat Kyle Fogg rolled in.  Fogg, who scored a career-high 25 in the ‘Cats’ LAST game against UCLA, went off on the Bruins again, going nuts in the 2nd Half, where Fogg scored 19 Points, going 5-of-6 from behind the arc.  For the game, he hit 7-of-10 Three’s, for a NEW career-high of 26.  And for UCLA it was “S.N.A.F.U.” — “Situation Normal:  All Fogged Up.” 

The problem for Ben Howland is that even after Fogg had established himself as the only MAJOR outside threat for Arizona, the Bruin Defense still allowed him to get open look after open look.  They kept on failing to recognize and adjust to the HOT player — The SAME hot player who burned them in Pauley earlier this year.

Arizona finally caught up to the Bruins at 58-all, with just under 8 minutes left, capitalizing on Malcolm Lee going out with leg cramps.  Lee must have been suffering after Halftime, because his penetration, which was so successful earlier, was not evident after the Break.  Maybe a Defensive adjustment is to blame, but the cramps are a more likely culprit.

With Lane and Anderson in foul trouble and 3 guys unavailable due to injury, Howland had to insert seldom-used Mike Moser.  In Moser’s 4 minutes of play, he got all zeroes in the box score, except for picking up two personal fouls.  Obviously, it was up to Honeycutt, Roll, and Nikola Dragovic to carry the Bruins… and they almost did.

Honeycutt tallied 11 & 11, with 4 Assists, 2 Blocks, and 2 Steals, but committed 4 Turnovers.  Roll scored 21 with 5 Boards and 4 Assists, but also turned the ball over 4 times.  Roll hit 9 Field Goals, but went only 2-of-5 from Three.  Drago scored 19, but missed 6 Three’s in 9 attempts, and missed 6 TWO’S in 9 attempts.  He missed a jumper in the last minute that could have given the Bruins life, he also got beat badly on Defense in crunch time, and he also made the crucial mistake that was the self-inflicted “dagger” of the game:  With time running out, the Bruins down 2, and the ‘Cats inbounding the ball, Drago fouled a guy BEFORE the ball was inbounded, making it an Intentional Foul, meaning that Arizona would retain possession of the ball after the Free Throws.  Game Over.

Believe it or not, there is a huge POSITIVE to be drawn from this game:  The Bruins can DEFINITELY beat Arizona on any given day, especially if Reeves Nelson returns, and especially in Los Angeles.  That means that there is literally NO team in the Pac-10 Tournament that the Bruins can’t compete with down to the wire.  After the loss to Arizona at Pauley, I didn’t think that the Bruins would be able to rise to the Wildcats’ level by March, but it seems like Arizona sank a little, so UCLA was absolutely competitive.  The Bruins should not be lacking confidence in any of their games at Staples, especially if their roster is a little more intact.

Final note for today:  Jay Leno was a day late, but he finally chimed in on usc’s Favorite Son O.J. Simpson, who tried to donate his “Acquittal Suit” to the Smithsonian, but the museum said no.  Leno suggested they WOULD be interested in the clothes O.J. wore when he COMMITTED the murders.  Also, they’d gladly accept the blindfolds and ear plugs that the jury used during the trial. 



  1. Robert C. Avatar
    Robert C.

    What a pathetic performance by the Bruins last night, specially Nikola Dragovic. I can’t wait for this season to be over, other than Reeves Nelson, Brendan Lane and Tyler Honycutt returning Howland should try to get a whole group next year. Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson, and J’mison Morgan, have been complete disappointments, what a horrible sports year for UCLA this year.