Mustangs should’ve had a V-8: Cal Poly-slo Mustangs can’t muster the muscle to mess with the Bruins, who couldn’t af-Ford to lose this must-win game at Pauley Pavilion
This week, the Bruins lost a Car(lino), but didn’t lose the race. UCLA got back on the winning track, by putting the brakes on a 4-game losing streak, with a 71-62 march to Victory Lane against the Mustangs from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
It took the Bruins a few laps before getting it into top gear, as they trailed Cal Poly 18-16 halfway through the first half. That’s when the beefiest Bruin — Center Joshua Smith — shifted UCLA into Overdrive, by throwing his weight around, and taking advantage of the Mustangs’ compact line-up.
Smith led the Bruins with 11 points in the first half, on his way to a career-high 19, as he controlled the boards and made several good defensive plays to help UCLA grind out a 34-26 lead at the break. A 5-0 edge in first half Offensive Rebounds made the difference, as UCLA rode a 10-0 advantage in second-chance points to stay ahead. Poly played a Zone Defense, but UCLA didn’t settle for outside jumpers. Instead, the Bruins showed a concerted effort to get the ball inside to Smith, Reeves Nelson, and even Brendan Lane, who dropped in three inside buckets in the first half.
In the second half, Cal Poly quickly trimmed the lead to 3, and kept it close until Jerime Anderson hit three consecutive perimeter shots around the 13-minute mark, to extend the lead to 14. Then a Tyler Honeycutt 3 made it a 17-point game, but Cal Poly didn’t quit, scoring 9 straight. A Malcolm Lee 3 ended a 3-minute scoring drought for the Bruins, but the Mustangs came right back and cut the lead to 7, with 7 minutes left. Then, a huge, no-look alley oop from Anderson to Honeycutt restored order, making it 60-51 with 5 and a half minutes to go. The ‘Stangs never got any closer, thanks to Smith, who kept the Bruins in charge, with a few more solid defensive plays, and by upping his Rebound total to 12.
That alley-oop gave Anderson SIX Assists, to ZERO Turnovers. Despite the fact that Jerime missed a few open shots after his three-in-a-row, this was still his best game to date, and bodes well for a team that just lost Matt Carlino — their back-up, back-up Shooting Guard — to a sudden and unexpected transfer. The Bruins now have only 4 bench players, and two of them cannot be relied on to contribute Offensively, so JA will absolutely HAVE to be productive for the rest of the year, if UCLA has any hope of competing for a Conference Title. And based on the Cal Poly game, expecting Anderson to “bring it” is no longer out of the question.