Bruins show they have onions, by cutting 20-point lead down to 5 with sweet comeback that made Bruin fans tear up, but get fried 72-56 when Jayhawks run rings around them in final four minutes
For 10 minutes in the Second Half, UCLA showed why they were top-20 ranked and the preseason pick to win the Pac-12. Down by 20 to #14 Kansas in the Maui Invitational, the Bruins flipped the switch, buckled down on Defense, and started hitting outside shots, to cut the lead to 5 with 8 minutes to go. Led by the perimeter shooting of Jerime Anderson, Tyler Lamb, and Reeves Nelson (!), the Bruins looked like an elite squad, dominating the Jayhawks for about 10 minutes. Making this run even more impressive is the fact that they did it with star player Josh Smith on the bench with foul trouble.
Smith contributed just 1 Point and 1 Rebound in his 13 minutes of playing time, as the Kansas strategy didn’t allow him to get anything. But when Smith went out, Kansas looked less organized, and the Bruins took advantage. Kansas probably thought that it was okay to let the Bruins launch three-pointers, especially Nelson, but Reeves made them pay, by hitting three Trey’s, and Lamb and Anderson added three and two more, respectively.
Those Rainbows got the Bruins back into a game that the announcers had written off at Halftime, when the Bruins were down by 17, after shooting 27% from the floor. The Bruins were also doomed by an ultra-slow start, falling behind 14-2 while failing to make a single field goal for the first 6 minutes of the game. The sideline demeanor hit rock bottom, with Smith purposely slamming his arm into a chair out of frustration.
But at Halftime, Ben Howland got through to them, because a few minutes after play resumed, the Bruins were energized, jumping up and down on the bench, and controlling every aspect of the game. The problem was that the comeback drained everything they had, so they had nothing left for the final 4 and a half minutes. Kansas went on an 11-0 run to close out the game, with the Bruins bricking their final six shots.
Still, it’s good to know that the Bruins really do have some potential, and are getting closer to harnessing it. As the team plays more games together and gains experience as a cohesive unit, they should still be a force to be reckoned with in the battle for Pac-12 supremacy.
Tomorrow they play Michigan in the losers bracket, because the Wolverines lost to Duke on Tuesday (after upsetting Memphis on Monday). This will be another tough test for UCLA, but at least everyone knows that the Bruins have what it takes to compete with good teams, at least for a while.