Running on M.T. — MTSU destroys UCLA 86-66, outshooting the Bruins 71% to 37%, by getting a ton of easy shots in the Paint, and making a stunning 10-of-11 from behind the arc

Who are the “bums” now?

Last week after the Bruins got beat soundly by Loyola Marymount, Josh Smith said that the Bruins lost to bums.  Will he say the same thing today, after the Bruins got beat even more convincingly by lowly Middle Tennessee State?  Not only did the Bruins get beat, but they played down to the level of the Arena.  Playing for the second time in the old dilapidated Los Angeles Sports Arena, the Bruins LOST for the second time, this time getting pummelled 86-66 in front of a smattering of die-hard UCLA fanatics… who will most likely stop coming if the Bruins don’t turn it around in a hurry.

Less than 100 students showed up to see their fellow Bruins display a lack of effort, and an even bigger lack of execution.  Coach Ben Howland said that never in his career has a team of his given up 71% shooting.  He said that the Bruins were constantly missing assignments, and making repeated mental errors on Defense.  Despite practicing these very Defensive schemes for two days before the game, the players kept leaving shooters wide open in order to double-team guys whom they were specifically instructed to NOT double-team.  Those repeated misplays allowed the Blue Raider shooters to take uncontested three’s all night long.  They came within one brick of setting an all-time NCAA record.  10 out of 10 would have been the best mark ever, but with about a minute left, a Blue Raider chucked up a prayer that didn’t draw iron.  Of course, they got the Rebound and put it back in for a score, but that lone miss cost them a place in the NCAA Record Book.

Missing the Record Book will not ruin the night for the Blue Raiders, who were celebrating the upset of 10-point favorite (per an Online Sportsbooks like UCLA for the last 5 minutes of the game, since they had already clinched the victory.  MTSU built an 8-point lead by Halftime, and turned up the volume in the second half, quickly pulling away after the break.  As bad as UCLA was on Defense, their Offense wasn’t much better.  Even with Jerime Anderson back in the line-up, they still couldn’t hit enough outside shots to keep pace with Middle Tennessee State.  UCLA made only 4 of 20 3-pointers, which is a pathetic percentage, but why did they shoot so many to begin with?  Considering that their bread and butter is their big men scoring inside, why did they keep launching 3’s?  Actually, it wouldn’t have mattered much on this night, as the Bruins missed their inside shots as well, also at an alarming rate.  Lay-ups and putbacks from point-blank range were consistently clanging off the rim into the hands of the opponents.  Even with the Bruins’ vaunted frontline, the Rebounds on the game were dead even at 32.

Josh Smith led the Bruins in both Points and Rebounds with 15 and 9, despite playing only 21 minutes.  Josh made 6-of-9 shots, mostly on put-backs, as ALL NINE of his Rebounds came on the Offensive end.  That means that he didn’t pull down a single Defensive Board.  That would normally be a huge red flag, except that MTSU didn’t miss very many shots all night, so the Defensive Rebound opportunities were few and far between.

Travis Wear was second on the team in both Points and Rebounds, with 10 and 4.  Travis went only 4-for-10 from the field, and like Josh, also failed to get a single Defensive Board.  According to Howland, the ONLY bright spot for UCLA was Norman Powell, who made three consecutive shots, showing that he can shoot, better than has been rumored.  Powell was the only Bruin besides Smith to shoot better than 50% on the game, going 4-for-7.

To summarize:  UCLA’s Defense was atrocious, their shooting was an epic fail, their passing/Offensive execution was weak, and their Rebounding edge was non-existent.  Meanwhile, suspended Reeves Nelson was probably watching on Television, wondering whether he can return, and turn this team into a winner.  Obviously, the team needs him and his intermittent tenacity, but on THIS night, it wouldn’t have made enough of a difference:  The best team won easily — The Bruins could have added Kobe Bryant to the line-up, and still would have lost.  Sad to say, but the Bruins were thoroughly outcoached, and outprepared, as the massive difference in execution clearly demonstrated.

Now the too-soft Bruins travel to Maui, probably without Nelson, on a collison course with a team capable of beating them by 40.  Howland needs to toughen up his team in a hurry, or Hawaiian fans will be singing “Wipeout.”

Below are 35 photos from the game.  The UCLA Cheer Squad was in attendance, but the Dance Team was not there.  However, the LAKER GIRLS made a surprise appearance at Halftime, and, along with the Cheer Squad, saved the night from being a totally disastrous waste of time.