Nelson and Honeycutt don’t phone it in, dialing up 30 of UCLA’s 40 1st Half Points to hang up the Tigers, 57-44

Operator, give me long distance to New York!

The Bruins are headed to N.Y.C. for the next round of the N.I.T. Season Tip-off Tournament, after disconnecting the University of Pacific, 57-44.  Once again, Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt were the stars, putting the Tigers in a hole from which they never escaped.  The Bruins started a little slowly, but their Starting Forwards turned it on about halfway into the 1st Half, helping build a 16-point lead by the break.

With Tyler Lamb and Joshua Smith getting more fouls than points, it was up to the Nelson/Honeycutt combo to carry the Bruins on Offense.  Still, it was a TEAM effort.  It seemed like almost every bucket came on an Assist, while Pacific insisted on going one-on-one.  The Bruins had 12 Assists to only 1 for the Tigers in that first stanza.  Point Guard Lazeric Jones was able to find the Forwards, and so did the other Guards, Lamb, and Jerime Anderson.  Nelson scored 17 of his 21 before Intermission, and Honeycutt got 13 of his 15 before the Break as well, mosly off of crisp, clever, UNSELFISH passes.

In the 2nd Half, the Bruins couldn’t buy a bucket, but their tough D and strong work on the glass kept the Tigers at bay.  Pacific closed the gap to 9 thanks to the Bruin drought, but they couldn’t get any closer.  UCLA scored only 7 points in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd Half, but during that same time, Pacific tallied only 10 themselves.

Honeycutt came through with 15 Rebounds, and Nelson grabbed 14.  Shockingly, of those 29 Boards, only TWO were on the Offensive end, one by each guy.  And even more shockingly, those were the ONLY 2 Offensive Boards that the Bruins got all night.  That means that the Tigers snagged the caroms on 15 of UCLA’s 17 missed shots.  Joshua Smith and company can’t let that happen, if they want to win in the Pac-10.  The Bruins shot 55% in the 1st Half, but only 35% in the 2nd (totalling 47% for the night).  But due to to their stellar Defense, the Bruins held Pacific to 25% for the game, including 3-of-23 from behind the arc.

Brendan Lane had a lot to do with the Bruins’ tough D.  Lane blocked FOUR shots, and was solid inside when the Tigers tried to drive.  It looks like Lane is getting Anthony Stover’s minutes, because of Lane’s improved Defense. Lane also hit another beautiful three-pointer, and pulled down 4 Rebounds in a good all-around game off the bench.

Tyler Lamb must have been spooked by his 1-for-10 performance on Monday, because he took only one shot on Tuesday.  OR, maybe he was just focused on Defense.  After the game, Ben Howland said that Lamb was quite possibly the Defensive Player of the Game.  That’s a helluva compliment — I was with Lamb at the time Howland announced that observation, and unfortunately, Lamb didn’t hear it.  But I’m sure Howland will relate it to him and all his teammates tomorrow.  As Lamb’s confidence on Defense grows, his confidence on the other end will come back too.  Also, when Malcolm Lee and Matt Carlino recuperate, the pressure on Freshman Lamb will lessen.

He didn’t seem all that happy after the game, and neither did Anderson, but Honeycutt was all smiles, joking around with his friends while juggling a pizza box.  And Malcolm Lee, who was wearing something like a soft cast/walking boot/splint on his sprained ankle, was in good spirits, and didn’t appear to be in a lot of pain.

The guy who was the most happy is the last guy that I expected to be pleased:  Ben Howland.  That just proves that he is much more interested in Defense than Offense, and that’s fine, since Defense wins Championships.  Not that the Bruins looked liked Champions on Tuesday night, but, as Howland knows, Lee, Carlino, and Lamb will score points — the x factor is how well the Bruins defend as a team, and in that area, they are ahead of schedule.

Below are 35 photos from Tuesday night’s doubleheader, including Bruin highlights, plus the UCLA Dance Team (sans their fearless leader — I hope she’s okay), plus the last shot from the Pepperdine/Nevada game, plus, the Pepperdine Cheerleaders… And finally, WOODEN’S DEN!!!!   And don’t forget to click on the pics to ENLARGE them.  The pics as posted are just “thumbnails.”  They are much better at full size.