Not caught by Zots: Bruins almost blow another 15-point lead, committing 17 Turnovers and missing 9 of 13 Free Throws late, but deny Irvine 74-73 with game-saving Defensive stop
Life without Tyler Honeycutt is not always sweet.
With Honeycutt — their best all-around player — out with a shoulder injury, the UCLA Bruins came way too close to losing to a huge underdog. The UC Irvine Anteaters charged back from an early 34-19 deficit, with ever-increasing aggressiveness, and thanks to some Bruin sloppiness, lack of focus, and choking from the Free Throw line, cut the lead all the way down to 1 point with 8 seconds left. The Anteaters were a little LUCKY to shave it to 1, as the three-point shot that did it actually — and unintentionally — BANKED in, but the rest of the comeback was due to superior effort and a tough, attacking mindset.
UCI used quick penetrations to dissect the Bruin Defense, repeatedly getting to the hoop for inside baskets. The Bruins blocked NINE shots, but the Anteaters persevered, and kept challenging the UCLA Defenders. And with the Bruins missing NINE Free Throws in the game’s final 7 minutes, UCI was able to come all the way back… almost.
In the final minute, Jerime Anderson missed two in a row, the first one barely reaching the rim. Then 81% FT shooter Lazeric Jones, who scored a career-high 20 Points with SIX Assists, missed one of two, and then Reeves Nelson missed one of two, his miss also barely drawing iron. However, his make gave the Bruins a 74-70 lead with 14 seconds left. Then the ‘Eaters hit thier lucky Trey, setting the stage for Freshman Tyler Lamb, who had played a fine game, Starting in Honeycutt’s place. Lamb had a chance to insure at least an Overtime period, but his first one was in-and-out, and the second one no better, allowing Irvine a chance to win the game with a two-point bucket.
UCI did not have any Time Outs remaining, so they took the rebound and rushed down the court as the clock ticked down from 6 seconds. An Anteater drove into the corner, and three Bruins converged on him. Not only couldn’t he shoot, but he couldn’t even get off a decent pass. The pass that he attempted couldn’t be caught, because a fourth Bruin — Brendan Lane — got in the intended receiver’s way. The TV announcer incorrectly called it a foul on Lane, but the Referree (correctly) swallowed his whistle on the incidental contact (just like the Ref at the end of the Kansas game SHOULD have done), and time expired.
Tyler Honeycutt is expected back for the next game, thankfully.
Lazeric Jones was not the only Bruin who stepped up in Honeycutt’s absence. Along with Jones, it was actually Malcolm Lee who carried the Bruins in the First Half. Lee had 14 Points before the Break, at which time the Bruins led 39-29. Like Jones, Lee scored 20 for the game, and also like Jones, he made 4 of 8 from behind the arc. And once again, in what is becoming a familiar refrain, Lee put the clamps on the opponent’s leading scorer. Also helping in that task was the entire Bruin front line. Except for a few bad stretches, Joshua Smith, Brendan Lane, and even Reeves Nelson showed improved instincts for bringing HELP defense, repeatedly shutting off penetrations, and accounting for 5 of the 9 Blocks.
Smith wasn’t in for the final 3:26, and it appeared that UCI’s strategy was to work on Lane. Brendan worked his ass off, but still gave up too much position down low. Perhaps Lane’s having 4 fouls contributed to that, but Ben Howland still chose to go with Lane over Smith. Smith was grimacing in pain after trying to take a Charge 6 minutes earlier, so maybe Howland HAD to use Lane, but no mention of that was made by the TV announcers in the postgame show. Of course, it worked out okay, as Lane’s final effort on Defense helped UCLA hang on to the victory.
As Lane and Lamb continue to improve, one potential problem is Jerime Anderson reverting back to questionable form. He was 1-for-4 from the field, and he choked on his two crucial Free Throw attempts. He also had 2 Turnovers. However, his 1 make was a HUGE three-point shot with 7:36 left, so hopefully, Anderson hasn’t and won’t lose his confidence again. Is it possible as Lamb improves, Anderson is panicking about losing minutes? That WOULD make sense.
The Bruins are now done with the “preseason” schedule, and start their final Pac-10 campaign next week, when the Washington schools come to town. Washington is picked to win the Conference, and WSU just beat Mississippi State and Baylor, so this will be the tougest homestand of the year, especially with an infirm Honeycutt. Don’t get discouraged if the Bruins start the Pac-10 at 0-2 — It doesn’t mean that they won’t still be competing for the Conference Title come March…
They may teeter, but they have the talent,courage and heart to finish strong.
And speaking of teetering, did you hear about O.J. Mayo’s Dad? In an “acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree” story…
Ex-trojan Mayo’s Dad was arrested for TRYING TO MURDER A COP!!!!! What is it with the name “O.J.?” Apparently, two Police Officers — while looking for someone ELSE — stumbled upon Mayo’s Dad, who was trying to HIDE from them in his car. When they started to investigate, Mayo’s Dad hit the accelerator, RAN OVER one of the Cops, and DRAGGED HIM down the road, stuck in his bumper.
After Mayo’s Dad was finally apprehended, a large amount of Pot and CRACK COCAINE was discovered in his vehicle. So just in case the Attempted Murder charge doesn’t stick (speaking of “O.J.’s”), he’ll still have to worry about the Drug Dealing offenses. Looks like Mayo will be mailing his next Father’s Day card to San Quentin, or another maximum security facility… unless O.J., who was also accused of Pot crimes in the past (in addition to his well-documented NCAA violations), is in the same facility by next June. Then he can just slip it to his Dad in the shower. Merry Christmas, trOJans!