Pullman Pair-a-dice: It gets a little dicey, but UCLA is still on a roll in Boxcar Town, as Michael Roll and new shooter Tyler Honeycutt come out hot to lead the bloodied Bruins over Ken Bone’s Cougars for their 17th straight win at Washington State, 71-51
If Ben Howland’s team could be called the “Howlanders,” what would you call the guys who play for Ken Bone? And what would happen when the play Oregon State? Well, the Bruins didn’t pull as many mental boners as they did in their loss to sc, and were able to dominate WSU for a RARE easy win, 71-51.
Even though the outcome was never in doubt after Halftime, don’t tell Reeves Nelson that the victory came “easy.” Nelson was double-teamed every time he touched the ball, causing him to commit 4 Turnovers, and on a fast break dunk, was knocked to the hardwood. The basket counted, but Nelson landed on his head, and required 15 stitches to close the bloody, dripping headwound gash. He did NOT get another concussion, and the tough mo-fo would have re-entered the game, but the Bruins were playing so well without him, that he was able to stay on the bench and recuperate.
UCLA shot 70% in the 1st Half, as they built a 9-point lead, let it get down to 2, then built it back up, all the way to 16, with a 14-0 run. WSU scored a bucket to end the spurt, and it made the Halftime score 40-26. Michael Roll led the hot-shooting Bruins, hitting his first 6 shots on his way to a team-high 15 points. The Bruins also streaked behind Tyler Honeycutt, who scored 12 early points (14 on the night), including two deep jumpers that he stroked with incredible confidence.
In the 2nd Half, the Bruins continued to shoot well, ending the game at 66% (including 6-for-8 on Dunks!!), while the Cougars went 0-9 from 3-point land, trying futilely to catch up. The Bruin Zone struggled early in the game, but Howland switched to a Man-to-Man to wake up their defensive tenacity, then switched right back to the Zone. The trick worked, as from that point on, the Zone was extended to challenge perimeter shooters, and the defenders were much more intense.
It took a team effort for UCLA to maintain a lead of about 18 for most of the 2nd Half. With James Keefe out for the season with a Shoulder injury, Nelson started at Center, but was knocked out early. Also, Malcolm Lee struggled all night with foul trouble. So the Bruins had to rely on Bobo Morgan and Brandon Lane up front, and Jerime Anderson in the Backcourt. A recipe for disaster? When the Bruins were already coming in as a 4-point Underdog? Not on this night. Morgan, Lane, and Anderson all played some of their best basketball of the season. Anderson got a talking-to from Howland during the week — about playing with confidence — and the words paid off with immediate dividends. Anderson was a completely different player from the #5 that stunk up Galen on Sunday. In his 24 minutes on Thursday night, Jerime scored 10 Points on 5-6 shooting, dished out 4 Assists to only 1 Turnover, Stole 2 balls, and even grabbed 3 Boards. And when WSU turned up the defensive pressure, trying desperately to close the gap, JA didn’t wilt. He was able to find open men who got the ball up the court.
Bobo Morgan gave the Bruins 21 meaningful minutes at the Post, scoring 2, grabbing 3 Caroms, Blocking 3 shots, and tallying 3 Assists. That is probably his most well-rounded stat line of the year. And he also took a couple of Charges on the Defensive end. He did drop one ball out of bounds and miss a short shot, but he was NOT a liability. And neither was Brendan Lane, who did not shine against sc, but who came up stronger against WSU. Lane collected 2 Points, 3 Rebounds, and 2 Steals, and held his ground on D, usually being in the right position underneath (a marked improvement for him from earlier in the year).
Nikola Dragovic continued his cold 3-point shooting, but found other ways to contribute, still managing 14 Points, and adding 4 Rebounds and 2 Blocks. He will need to hit more than 1 Three in the next game, if the Bruins expect to Sweep Washington. The Huskies staged a furious comeback against sc, but came up short, for a rare Home loss, so you can bet that they will be hungry and motivated when the Bruins get to Seattle.