After STEPPEN out to an early lead, Bruins WOLF down Born-to-be-Mild Beavers, who can’t Ward off Wand-Wielding Westbrook’s Wicked Wizardry, 84-49
Thanks to KAY-Love and the UCLA Starting Guards, the Bruins got their Mata running on Thursday night, and the result was heavy metal thunder for stil-winless-in-the-Pac-10 Oregon State.
The Beavers’ Hunt for Conference Win #1 now shifts to the Galen Center, where OSU will be looking for adventure, or whatever comes their way. Of course, when you visit South Central, you’d better be careful what you wish for. With the trOJans being so inconsistent this season, especially at home, this upcoming weekend’s game might be the Beavers’ best chance to salvage their season, and avoid the History Books: No team has ever lost every single one of their Pac-10 games. The trojans salvaged a win against Oregon yesterday, but showed how bad they can be, when they fell behind 40-25 in the first half.
If OSU is smart, and that’s a big “if,” they will try to make it a physical game, because if they could foul out Taj Gibson and Davon Jefferson, all they’d have to do is triple-team O.J. Mayo to make a game out of it. And a “signature loss” at home like that would probably knock sc right out of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bruins, on the other hand, could have survived such a loss, but they took care of business on Thursday night. They got a quick lead on OSU, behind Kevin Love inside and Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook outside, and went on a big run to open up a 20-point margin before the half. With the Guards passing the ball crisply all around the court, the Bruins were able to snap out of their shooting slump. Josh Shipp still didn’t hit a Three (in 4 attempts), but the Bruins as a team shot over 55%.
The percentage increase was thanks to better shot selection, brought about by 7 Assists from Westbrook, and 9 Assists from Collison. And the two got their own points as well, with Westy leading all scorers with 17, and DC adding 14. Kevin Love knocked in 11 Points and grabbed 9 Boards, but thanks to the big lead, Love’s back-up was even more impressive. Lorenzo Mata-Real had his best game in a while, with 11 Points, 5 Rebounds, and THREE Blocked Shots. James Keefe also contributed off the bench – before the game was out of reach – with 6 Points and 7 Boards. Even Chace Stanback had his best “minute” so far, collecting 4 quick points, and completing an alley oop on a great lob from Matt Lee, who on that play looked more like Greg Lee, the Guard who used to feed Bill Walton like that, with regularity.
The most important part of this game was that no one got injured after the game was decided. KLove spilled some blood, and later rolled an ankle, but quickly returned to the court after both incidents. Seeing him limp for a moment reminded all Bruin fans how FLEETING success can be, and how fortunate they are to be on a Final Four Back-to-Back Run. Of course, the way Mata-Real played last night, the Bruins are capable of making it to San Antoinio, even without their Best Weapon. After all, they’ve been winning without Shipp’s outside shot, which USED to be their best weapon, and they’ve survived other slumps as well. All this adversity is just making the team stronger as a multi-pronged ATTACK UNIT, for which having no “go-to guy” is turning into a blessing instead of a curse.