The Pepperdine Waves are nauseatingly bad, making UCLA look good for one night; MAYBE the ramped-up intensity of the Bruin Defense had something to do with it
It was hard to tell — Did the Bruins finally flip the switch, or did they just find another Chaminade-level opponent whom they could manhandle without much effort? Of course the answer is that it was a combination of the two factors.
UCLA whipped Pepperdine at the Sports Arena on Monday night, 62-39. A couple of weeks ago, after the Bruins lost to Loyola, Josh Smith tweeted that they lost to some straight bums. Tonight, he could say that they BEAT some straight bums. Pepperdine was horrible for the last 30 minutes of the game, unable to hit open shots, unable to handle the basketball, unable to get penetration, unable to get shots around or over the interior Defense, unable to Rebound, and unable to defend the Paint.
The Waves made the Wears look like High School All-Americans. Travis Wear scored 8 Points, pulled down 10 Rebounds, and Blocked 3 shots. David Wear scored 10 Points, grabbed 7 Boards, and Blocked 2 shots. The energy and effort of the Wears on both ends of the floor was the difference in the game. They finally toughend up on the Boards and on Defense, finding the smaller Waves much to their liking. They seemed to finally grasp Ben Howland’s system of hedging, rotating, and helping out on weakside D.
The Wears got a lot of playing time because Smith and Reeves Nelson were in major foul trouble. But the result was a much quicker Bruin squad, able to run down the court both ways, and able to move more fluidly in halfcourt sets, on O and on D.
It also helped that Lazeric Jones snapped out of his slump, scoring 14 Points, including two Three-pointers. Norman Powell also impressed, coming off the bench to hit two Three’s of his own, on his way to a 10-point night. Powell also made a couple of inside moves that showed everyone why he is known for his freakish athleticism. Powell may get plenty of opportunity, especially if Jerime Anderson repeats tonight’s lackluster performance. JA went 1-8 from the field, including 0-4 from behind the arc, and also threw a ball away on a truly unforced error.
The game was a total blowout, but it started off slow and competitive, with neither team able to score at all. The Bruins were held to only 2 baskets — both dunks — and 2 Free Throws, in the first EIGHT minutes of the game. That’s right — not one single jump shot made until there were less than 12 minutes left in the 1st Half. But since Pepperdine was tragically bad, the score was 6-5 Bruins at that point.
Then Travis Wear hit the Bruins’ first non-dunk Field Goal, and it keyed a 23-4 spurt that carried the Bruins to a 28-11 Halftime Lead. The Waves never threatened after that, shooting a paltry 31% from the floor.
The Bruins thoroughly dominated in two key areas: Points Off Turnovers (21-2), and Points In The Paint (34-16). That enabled the Bruins to expand their lead to 27 Points, before Howland emptied the bench, allowing the Waves to cut it to 23 before the final buzzer.
UCLA will find out on this coming Saturday if it was them or the Waves, because Texas comes to town. Even though the Longhorns are only 3-2 and not ranked, they will undoubtedly provide a stiffer test than did the Waves. Then we will find out if the Bruins’ more-tenacious Defense was an aberration, or a trend.