California Roll — Mike showed raw talent, fishing UCLA out of trouble in the Bay(t) Area.

Jelly Roll — Mike was shaking and baking with his sweet jumper all night.

Emergency Break-through:  Off-the-hook Michael Roll takes Jerime Anderson off the hook, by saving JA’s blocked pass and cranking in the game-winner with 1.9 seconds left in Overtime, as 15-point underdog UCLA disconnects Cal like a dropped call, 76-75

Boy, did Cal dial a wrong number.

How about “11%.”  That’s what the Golden Bears dialed up from behind the arc on Wednesday night, and that 2-for-18 exhibition allowed UCLA to come up with their biggest victory of the year.  UCLA’s Defensive effort was much-improved over their disappointing performance in the big loss to Arizona last weekend, but Cal missed a ton of shots that they usually make.  Cal’s leading scorer on the Season, Jerome Randle, went 5-16 and 1-8 from Downtown, as UCLA Coach Ben Howland continues his trend of shutting down the opponent’s top Offensive threat.   Howland has a tradition of Defensive Preparation and scheme-planning that forces players other than the Star to beat him.  Like last year’s game against Luke Harangody, amongst many, many others, it’s amusing HOW MANY great scorers have “off nights” against Howland’s Bruins.

That being said, Randle missed his share of OPEN shots, too, and the one Three that he DID hit was HUGE — It tied the game with just over a minute left in regulation.  But Randle scored only 11 points in 41 minutes — 8 under his average.  Howland is also somewhat famous doing better when having more time to prepare for a foe, and so far this Pac-10 season, that pattern is holding fast:  With a week to prepare for ASU and Cal, the Bruins played their best game of the year, each time, whereas with only 2 days to prep for Arizona, the Bruins got destroyed.  And there must be some truth to it, as the Wildcats IN Pauley are not necessarily a tougher assignment than is Cal on the Bears’ home court.  But even more than good prep, or stamina, it’s really about the shooting.  In an off-year for the Pac-10, there is no stand-out team (sc lost to Stanford last night), and whoever “gets red hot” (or “goes ice cold”) in any given game, is going to win (or lose) that game.  Sure, the opposing Defense has a lot to say about that, but like I keep saying, Cal missed a lot of open shots, as did the Bruins in some of THEIR upset losses.

And the Bruins picked an excellent game to have a great shooting night.  As a 15-point underdog, the Bruins were not expected to win their first Pac-10 road game of the year, against one of the expected top 2 teams in the Conference.  Not only that, but the Bears’ strength is their experienced Guards, who should have been able to exploit the Bruins’ struggling Guards, one of whom (J.A.) was getting benched from starting, for missing an injury-rehab appointment.

And even with the Bears’ cold shooting, they were still controlling the game, for most of the first half.  The Bruins led 6-2, but then the Bears went on a 14-2 run, and kept the lead until late in the game.  Tyler Honeycutt started with Anderson getting disciplined, and Honeycutt contributed… on the Boards mainly.  Honeycutt got 10 Rebounds, including 2 Offensive Boards in the first few minutes that helped the Bruins settle in.

But Honeycutt scored only 2 Points in 29 minutes, and dished out exactly ZERO Assists.  In fact, lots of Bruins struggled to get Assists, as only FOUR Bruins got any Assists at all.  But with Cal and Randle still trying to find their way, UCLA hung in there, trailing by about 8 for most of the Half, and were down only 34-26 at the break (despite getting dominated, according to the announcers).  Michael Roll had hit a couple of early shots to keep the Bruins in it, and Reeves Nelson was very active on Offense as well, drawing fouls more often than not.  Unfortunately, he went only 7-14 from the line.  But if he gets 14 Free Throws every game, the Bruins will have a good chance of pulling some more upsets.  Beacause if they can win AT Cal, then there is NO GAME in the Pac-10 this year that the Bruins CAN’T win.

And the Bruins won this one without much scoring from THEIR leading scorer, either.  Like, Randle, Lee couldn’t find his stroke, going 1-7 from thr floor, 0-3 from Three including one that didn’t draw iron, and 4-6 from the line, with the two misses both being FRONT ENDS of 1-and-1’s late in the game.  Perhaps Lee was consumed with his Defensive tasks, which included helping to shut down Randle.  OR, perhaps he was consumed with being the Point Guard, and trying to create more and score a little less.  I suggested last week after he scored 29 that moving him from Shooting Guard may not be good for him, and at least for part of this game, it wasn’t (even though Lee’s DAD says he’s better with the ball in his hands more).  Lee DID get 7 Assists, 6 Rebounds, a Steal, a Block, and 4 crucial late Free Throws, but he committed another 4 Turnovers, and didn’t show the driving penetration that was starting to make him a media darling.  BUT… beyond Defensive challenges and position changes, it might have just been SEVERE LEG CRAMPS that were slowing Malcolm down.  He actually had to leave the game for a short time, due to the apparent pain.

Jerime Anderson, who is still apparently battling a groin injury (I hope that’s what it is) showed more dribble-penetration than Lee, making a layup on a drive around the edge, and he also hit his two Three-pointers.  But he did not look healthy running the point, also committing FOUR Turnovers, to only 2 Assists.  And of course, there was the crucial play…

But to even GET to Overtime, it took a lot of doing.  After immediately cutting the Halftime lead of 8 down to 4, the suddenly-SLOPPY Bruins allowed the Bears to go on a run, and Cal went up by a game-high 12, 42-30.  At that point, the Bruins had 14 Turnovers already.  Then Nikola Dragovic shook off a few early misses to hit three straight Three-pointers, and Roll followed those up with two Trey’s of his own.  Then the Bruins pounded it inside to Nelson, who made one great inside shot, and got to the line repeatedly.  His Free Throws gave the Bruins their first lead since it was 6-4, as the Bruins took a 55-54 lead with 6 1/2 minutes to go.

The Bruins stayed on top for most of the rest of the way, but it was always very close.  The Bear who hurt the Bruins in the First Half with 12 Points– Patrick Christopher — was shut down after Intermission by Howland’s Defense, scoring only 2 more the rest of the way.  But Cal’s Theo “nice sweater” Robertson put up a career-high 24 Points to offset Christopher and Randle being quiet.  Also, reserve Omondi Amoke went 5-of-7, scoring 10 Points, and actaully carrying Cal for about 5 minutes.  According to announcer Marques Johnson, Cal was exploiting the Defense of Nikola Dragovic.  Even in the Zone, the Bears would keep running plays to Drago’s side, finding holes when Drago would cover the wrong guy.  It wasn’t a lack of effort — in fact Drago even dived for a ball — but he just didn’t understand his responsibilities.

One thing Drago DID was hit TWO clutch Free Throws, with the score tied (by Randle’s lone 3) and 48 seconds left, after missing a confidence-sapping Three.  But Theo got inside and tied it back up.  On the last play in regulation, Anderson dribbled down the clock, then did a Pick and Roll with Nelson, but with a tough pass in traffic, Nelson had the ball ripped away from him by Christopher.  Then Cal missed a prayer — and a tip — as time expired, forcing Overtime.

Anderson started off the O.T. with a driving lay-up, and Lee followed that with two big Rebounds, and he got fouled after each of them, and made all 4 Free Throws.  But then Nelson missed two Free Throws, and Cal climbed back to tie it at 71.  Then a BEAUTIFUL FEED by Anderson inside to Nelson for an AND ONE put the Bruins back on top, by 3, and Nelson followed it up with a studly Rejection on the other end (after a whole game of struggling to get over in time to offer help Defense inside). [And speaking of Blocks, Bobo Morgan had a great Block as well — one of his best ever — earlier in the game.] 

Randle cut the lead to 1 with a smooth floater, and then Drago threw a bad pass for his 3rd Turnover of the game.  Cal ‘s Brandon Smith then had the ball and got triple-teamed, so he hooked the ball over to an open Jamal Boykin, who calmly sank a short bank shot.  An ironic way for the Bruins to lose, since John Wooden is the King of Teaching the Bank Shot?  Not so fast.  The Bears were up 75-74, but there were still 21 seconds left.

Once again, with the game on the line, Ben Howland put the ball in the hands of his Point Guard Jerime Anderson.  JA penetrated, and on the drive, he thought he spotted an open Bruin underneath, so he tried to pass.  There were actually the arms of two different defenders in the way, and one of them — Boykin — knocked the ball down.  But it bounced to Roll, who alertly grabbed it and got a shot off — a leaner in the lane — and he swished it, with 1.9 seconds left.

Then the ghost of Christian Laettner entered the building.  Cal tried to duplicate that sadly-legendary play, but Cal’s final prayer was not answered, and the Bruins came away with their 8th straight over Cal, and one of the biggest upsets in UCLA’s storied history.  Of course, it hasn’t been that often that UCLA is a 15-point underdog, so they don’t get many opportunities to do this, and NOW, after this performance, they might not be a 15-point underdog for the rest of the year. 

Roll ended up leading the Bruins with 19 Points, including 3-6 from Three-point land.  He also picked up 6 Assists (against 3 Turnovers), and 2 Rebounds.  Drago got 18, with 3 Rebounds, 3 Assists, and 3 Turnovers.  It seemed like the Bruins were running solid Offensive plays that were freeing up either Roll or Drago for good, open outside looks,  And the Bruins also kept feeding the beast inside, as Nelson kept taking the ball aggressively to the hole.  Personally, I think the Refs were a little kind to him, calling fouls that would never be called in the Tournament, by non-Pac-10 Refs.  But there was some contact, so the calls weren’t “phantom” fouls, and the Bruins were wise to keep going to that well.  Nelson will just need to make more of his Free Throws in order to justify this strategy in the future.  Also, it would be nice to see him make a clever pass or two out of the low block, especially since his increased usage and success is bound to draw double-teams in the future.  It’s NOT GOOD for a player to get ZERO Assists in 32 minutes.  Maybe they are running isolation plays where none of his teammates are cutting or LOOKING for passes in those situations, but that just doesn’t sound right either.

With both Guards at less than 100% in terms of their penetration wheels, it is imperative that Nelson deliver the POINTS in the Paint right now.  If they get their legs back, Nelson will see more cutting and slashing and OPTIONS.  Honeycutt too needs to score down low.  If he can get 10 Boards, he should also be able to get more than just 1 Field Goal (and 0 Assists).

Enough number-crunching — the only thing that matters is that the Bruins BOUNCED BACK from a horrible loss, with their best effort yet, in their toughest challenge yet, against a very good Bear team, that will still probably challenge for the League Title…  as might the Bruins, if they can string together a few efforts like this one.

Below are 17 new UCLA Cheer photos from the last Cal vs. UCLA Football game.  Mouse over them for captions, which are more stats and comments on the Bruins’ win, and click on the photos to enlarge them.

Brendan Lane looked a little nervous in his first Pac-10 Road game, but settled down to get 3 points, 2 Blocks, 2 Rebounds, and a Steal;  Not bad for 8 minutes.

James Keefe contributed 11 minutes, and chalked up 1 Board and 1 Block, but no Field Goal attempts.

As soon as the game was won, JA gave Roll a huge chest-bump of appreciation, appropriately.

Reeves Nelson got 15 Points, (on 4-8 and 7-17), 2 Blocks, and a Steal, but only 3 Rebounds?  It seemed like he got more than that.

If the Bruins can beat Cal AT Cal while Lee goes 1-7 with 6 Points, what could they do if they had two healthy Guards?

Ben Howland could easily win Coach of the Year, if his team continues to play like it did on Wednesday night.

It is hard to believe that UCLA and sc are tied for 2nd in the Pac-10.  Each, at some point, were expected to finish about 9th.

The Bruins ended up shooting 49% from the floor (good), 58% from the line (bad), and 45% from Three (very good).

The Bruins won the Rebounding battle, barely, 32-31.

Don’t take Stanford for granted:  UCLA is not as good with only 2 days of prep.  And the Cardinal may have gotten killed by the Bears, but they just beat a good (even if demoralized) troy.

Cal had 18 Assists like UCLA did, but Cal’s 18 came from EIGHT guys, not just FOUR.

Cal will want to take out their frustrations against sc, but the trojan Defense may just frustrate them further.

And YES, of course, I thought the Bruins were going to get killed up there, and am ecstatic to be wrong again.  And it’s not like I didn’t watch it live!

If the games were played just once a week, Howland might win the Conference every year.

I wonder if Jerime still gets to be “The Man” if the clock is running down in a tied game with Stanford?

Moral of the Story:  Even on the Road, UCLA can beat the best, as long as they hold the best to 2-for-18 from behind the arc.

Last one for today;  If you like these pictorials, and want them to continue, or want to make special requests, I now accept PAYPAL Donations.  Please click on the Donation link at the top of the page.  Thank you.           






  1. Rick Avatar

    The win was certainly a pleasant surprise/shock, but it’d be nice if they didn’t only bring that kind of effort in the games they’re expected to lose! I’d go a step further than saying they can’t take Stanford for granted: If they think they can just “show up” at Stanford (where all the calls are going to go against them) and continue to give up layup after layup, and brick the free throws they do get, then they are going to get their butts kicked again and blow the chance to finallly get back to .500 and gain some much needed momentum going forward…

  2. Beer Belly Avatar
    Beer Belly

    Nice clear, sharp photos of the best dance team in the country. Also, it’s nice to see green grass. I won’t see that around here until May.

    Beer Belly
    Green Bay, WI