Ch-ch-ch-Changes: It could be a Golden Year for Young American Tyler Lamb, who scores 17 in a win over the Golden Eagles, and who could be one of the Heroes to reach early Fame if the Bruins are saying “Let’s Dance” in March
Lean on me, man, if you can’t afford the ticket…
UCLA completed their Exhibition Season on Tuesday night, and now they Have Friday On Their Mind, when CSUN comes to Pauley to begin the actual Season. And this year, unlike last year, there is no Panic in Westwood. Not that Bruin fans are Dancing in the Streets under Serious Moonlight, but at least they’re not hoping for a Jean Genie to wish the whole Season away. On Tuesday night, UCLA — playing without the injured Reeves Nelson and Matt Carlino — still put away Cal State Los Angeles 84-59.
The Golden Eagles actual put up a good fight for 10 minutes, after which they trailed by only 4, but then the Bruins sprung to life, going on a 26-4 run to take a 26-point lead into Halftime. Once again, the Bruins did the damage without lighting it up from behind the arc, going 2-for-10 from Three in the First Half. But the Bruins dominated inside, and forced the Eagles into low-percentage shots, allowing UCLA to go on their big spurt.
But the fears about UCLA not being able to shoot from outside were disspelled in the second half, when the Bruins hit 6 of their 9 Trey’s, with many of them being perfect swishes. The surprising thing is that even with the Bruins getting hot from outside, they actually LOST the second half, 39-40. It’s not that they played badly, but they sort of put it on cruise control, not showing the killer instinct that they might need during the Pac-10 schedule.
That being said, I wouldn’t say that any player performed poorly, during either the first OR second half. Maybe missing two players led to a little fatigue, or maybe they just took mercy on an outmanned team, during an EXHIBITION game. One thing’s for sure: The Bruins did NOT maintain the frenetic pace that they established in their first game. The Eagles used a little full-court pressure to slow down the transition game, and it worked, but the Bruins in general just weren’t pushing it as much as they did in Game 1.
This game was more about the half-court Offense, and the Bruins were fairly effective in their execution. Freshman Tyler Lamb looked like a natural, with Basketball instincts way above the curve, especially for a first-year player. He was able to drive, he was able to shoot, and he was able to be in the right place at the right time.
And Lamb wasn’t the only “Tyler” to excel. Tyler Honeycutt was the other big difference maker, scoring 15, and much more importantly, pulling down 15 Rebounds. Honeycutt dominated the Boards, repeatedly skying over everyone to pull down caroms at their highest point. Honeycutt’s emphasis on Rebounding was probably by design, necessitated by Nelson’s absence. It’s definitely nice to know that the Bruins don’t have to RELY on Nelson to clean the glass.
Both Bruin Centers continued to impress, with Joshua Smith looking surprisingly nimble, and with Anthony Stover continuing his Block party. Any time a Golden Eagle drove on him, they had to alter their shot, which helped cause their 33% shooting woes. The two Centers combined for 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 Blocks, and 2 Steals.
Outrebounding both of them, again, was Brendan Lane. Lane had a great game, grabbing 7 Boards, and scoring 12 of his 14 points in the crucial first half. He also got a Blocked Shot, and he tied for the team lead in Assists, with 4. Lane looked more comfortable in Game 2, sinking a Three without hesitation early in the game, and continuing to look for his shot more. He also set several rugged screens to free up his teammates.
At the Point, Lazeric Jones still looks like he deserves to be Starter, playing smart, controlled ball. He seems to have a knack for getting the Offense into executing plays immediately after he crosses into the front court, while Jerime Anderson seems to dribble more, and take more time to get the play set up. When both of them were in together, Jones ran the offense, and Anderson was the Shooting Guard. Anderson may get a lot of time at the 2, especially considering that he drained two Trey’s, back-to-back in the second half.
However, Malcolm Lee is not is jeopardy of losing his spot to Anderson. Lee was effective in every facet of the game, grabbing 6 caroms to go along with his 9 points, 1 Block, and 2 Steals. He had only 1 Assist, but he didn’t have a single Turnover. And he better continue to play well, since Tyler Lamb is capable of earning some of Lee’s minutes. I don’t mean to create any controversy — I’m just saying that the Bruins have some solid depth that maybe some fans weren’t anticipating.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t read too much into ANY analysis of two Exhibition games against very weak opponents. We’ll know a lot more after Friday, when the Matadors — who WON in Pauley not that long ago — bring the level of competition up to “stiff.”
Speaking of… competition, there is no one who can compete with the UCLA Spirit Squad, and, as promised, here are 17 more examples of their World Class dominance. Oh, wait — One more tidbit of Bruin Basketball info: Kevin Love was a MONSTER on Tuesday night, scoring 23 points and pulling down a career-high TWENTY-FOUR Rebounds, as his Clipper-like Timberwolves, who were an 18-point Underdog, gave the Lakers a good fight before losing by only 5 points at Staples Center. Now, speaking of LOVE…