Obscene start, happy ending — Lazeric Jones Reems ASU with 10 Points, 10 Assists, and no mental boners, pulling UCLA out of a 12-point hole, and thrusting them to an 18-point pounding of the Sun Devils, 71-53
Slow starts may have worked for Zenyatta almost every time, but UCLA needs to find a different approach. The Bruins overcame a coma-like beginning on Thursday night to come back and stomp the Sun Devils 71-53, but Arizona State is the worst team that the Bruins will play for the rest of the year. It would be a lot tougher to make up a double-digit deficit against the likes of Arizona and Washington.
Last night, the Bruins played like it was 8am instead of 8pm, taking 10 minutes of playing time before they got the sand out their eyes, and the starch out of their shorts. ASU took an early 21-9 lead, scoring all of their points on easy, mostly uncontested bunnies, while the Bruin Defense barely gave chace. Meanwhile, on the other end of the floor, the Bruins couldn’t get the ball inside, so they repeatedly settled for outside jumpers, missing 9 of 10.
Then Ben Howland called his second Time Out, and somehow got through to his troops. Tyler Honeycutt hit a couple of Three’s, Reeves Nelson got his head up on Defense, and the Bruins collectively kicked up thier intensity about seven notches. UCLA went on a 14-to-nothing run to take the lead, and continued on to a 30-8 run to take a 10-point lead into the locker room, with Malcolm Lee scoring 12 of his team-high 16 Points in the 1st Half. Shortly after Halftime, the Bruins pushed the run to 40-14, taking a 14-point lead, and not too much later, they upped the lead to 20.
The Bruins’ domination was a true team effort, with Point Guard Lazeric Jones leading the way. His 10 Points were helpful, but it was his 10 Assists that really set the tone. Jones got the ball inside effectively, and found open shooters on the perimeter as well. But most importantly, he got those 10 dimes without committing a single Turnover. The Bruins were FINALLY smart with the ball, committing only TWO Turnovers for the entire 1st Half (and ending the game with only 9).
When the Bruins started to play Defense, it spurred their transition game, which led to a 10-0 advantage in Points Off Turnovers in the crucial 1st Half. And in addition to improved Defense, the Bruins also started to control the Boards, led by Nelson who grabbed a dozen caroms. Once again, Nelson was the toughest guy in the Paint for either team, using his strength to score 12 Points, and to stymie the vertically-challenged Devils, with 3 Blocks on the other end. Center Joshua Smith also took advantage of the undersized ASU team, scoring 12 Points and Blocking 3 shots. Blocked Shots were a huge part of the Bruins’ stifling D, as the team got a total of TEN on the night.
But the amazing stat of the game was Tyler Honeycutt’s ZERO Turnovers. Tyler finally got the message that his crazy passes were killing the team’s Offensive attack, and he repeatedly thought better of throwing them in this game. He still got off one nifty pass inside for a hoop, and he had only 1 errant pass, which got knocked out of bounds by ASU, so it was not a Turnover. Honeycutt scored 13 Points, as he was thinking “shoot” instead of pass for a change.
The other notable fact of the game: The Bruins didn’t blow most of their lead. When they built it up to 20, ASU hit two straight Three’s to cut it to 14, but they never got any closer. Maybe after getting outscored by 12 early, the Bruins knew that they couldn’t be complacent against the last-place Devils. Not to mention that ASU wiped out a late 15-point deficit the LAST time these two teams met.
The Bruins’ victory set the stage for a huge Pac-10 showdown with Arizona on Saturday afternoon, because the #10 Wildcats CHOKED Thursday night at the Galen Center. Now the Bruins can create a tie at the top of the standings, if they even their season series with U of A. By the way, the Arizona-sc game was a “Pick ’em” game at the Vegas Sportsbooks, which was shocking to me. I was thinking of betting the farm on the Cats, who I felt should have been favored by about 8. It’s a damn good thing that I don’t have any money to bet with, or I would have lost it all.
Speaking of losing it all, former Star Bruin Guard Baron Davis is now a former Clipper. That may sound like a good thing for him at first, but Davis had earned the ire of Owner Donald Sterling, so he got shipped off to the Cavaliers, in what is being called a “salary dump.” Davis makes so much, that the Clippers decided to save some of it, in order to have some dough when it comes time to keep Blake Griffin and a few others in L.A. However, there might be a REASON why Baron’s final resting spot is Cleveland, with the League’s worst team: Meaning, that the one thing you never want to do is piss off a vindictive millionaire like Sterling.
Now it’s time to hope that the NCAA is somewhat vindictive too. The NCAA just informed Tennessee and usc what violations Lane Kiffin and his merry men are being charged with while they were coaching the Volunteers. The violations are mostly minor, but they add up to Failure to Promote an Atmosphere of Compliance, and there is a good chance that penalties will be levied against Kiffin AT usc. He will probably be restricted in his personal recruiting efforts next year, especially because some of the transgressions happened AFTER they were specifically warned about them. Unfortunately, none of these new allegations are allowed to be considered in the sc Appeal of the current sanctions. So even though sc hired a group of guys that were blatantly and knowingly cheating, sc is not being held accountable for its lack of judgment in choosing them. At least, not Officially. If there is any justice in the World, and if the NCAA decison makers are human at all, they can’t help but be swayed by this knowledge. Of course, if they are really human, they could al$o be $wayed by u$c Alumni per$ua$ion, too.
And a final note: Disgraced ex-trojan Coach Tim Floyd showed his true colors once again, when he went uber-ballistic during a game and got thrown out, but REFUSED TO LEAVE. A uniformed Police Officer had to intervene, and physically escort Floyd off the court and all the way into the locker room. It’s not hard to believe that someone with apparently-psychotic tendencies like that would also be twisted enough to deliver an envelope of cash to his star player, just like he was accused of (and “convicted” of, by his own athletic department). He may be able to teach good Defense, but he will never be able to teach CLASS.