Wooden’s House of Leather — In their last game in Original Pauley, UCLA, in roll-back attire, marks down #10 Arizona 71-49, and earns a Tie for 1st Place, behind a career-high 27 from Reeves Nelson, with the Pavilion’s final basket ever fittingly coming from Wooden’s great-grandson

Thanks a million, Pauley Pavilion!

Nell & John’s Court was Nel(son) & Josh’s Court on Saturday, as the Bruin Big Men dominated the Wildcats to give UCLA a shockingly-easy, 71-49 arena-“closing” victory over Arizona.  The Bruins are now tied for First Place in the Pac-10 with the ‘Cats, with two games to play.

Pauley Pavilion will now be closed (after the Women’s games next weekend) for all of next year, while the venerable old building is retrofitted to meet the needs of the 21st Century and today’s Basketball fans.  It will still be Pauley Pavilion, and it will still be Nell & John Wooden Court — and it will be markedly BETTER — but this is the end of the PRISTINE landmark that gave UCLA more thrills and Championships than any other “erection.”

For this highly-anticipated event, the Bruins were wearing uniforms that paid tribute to the 1964 team — Wooden’s First Championship squad — and the 1971 team was celebrated at Halftime, on the 40th anniversary year of THEIR National Title.  So the Bruins had extra-emotional motivation to play well… even BEFORE the consideration that they were playing for a share of the Conference lead.  The pressure was so high, that some Coaches and Players were worried that the Bruins would be TOO excited to perform well.  But the Bruins laid those fears to rest, as they were able to Fend off Arizona in the Send-off of old Pauley.  The game was close for about 15 minutes, until the Bruins went on an 8-0 run to get some breathing room.  UCLA was not shooting well from outside, so they made a concerted effort to get the ball inside.  Reeves Nelson was the most effective man in the paint, getting 16 Points and 10 Rebounds BEFORE Halftime, on his way to 27 and 16 for the game.  Even Tyler Honeycutt got the memo on taking the ball inside, as he made several slashing efforts to take the leather to the iron, on his way to 15 Points.  And for the second game in a row, Honeycutt didn’t make any overly-risky passes, preferring the dribble-drive to invade the paint.

Joshua Smith completed the Offensive Frontcourt Assault, scoring 17, as the big men carried almost the entire scoring load for the Bruins.  UCLA took a 40-30 lead into the locker room, and then, after the 1971 Party, came back on the floor and quickly expanded the lead.  They scored the first 11 Points of the 2nd Half, to make the run 24-2, and make the score 51-30.  The Wildcats didn’t quit, going on a 10-0 run of their own, and then cutting the lead to 9 with 4:30 left.  But the Bruins responded, with a Joshua Smith tip-in, and then a Nelson lay-in — and one — to make the lead comfortable once again.  Nine points was as close as Arizona would get, as the Bruins cruised to the convincing 22-point W.

The Bruins won the shooting battle 52% to 32%, thanks to not settling for outside shots, and thanks to a smothering, energetic Defense.  Nelson REQUESTED the assignment of guarding certain All-American Derrick Williams, and Nelson gave an obliging Ben Howland no regrets.  Between Nelson’s intense play and a series of timely double-teams, Williams was neutralized.  And while Malcolm Lee and Lazeric Jones had off-nights shooting, they were excellent on the other end, repeatedly bothering the Arizona deadeye shooters, forcing them to miss many more than they made.  In addition, Anthony Stover was a huge contributor on the Defensive end, grabbing 4 Rebounds and leading the Bruins with FOUR BLOCKS, while ALTERING several others.

The Bruins were ahead by about 20 in the final minute, allowing Howland to insert the guys who hardly ever play, including John Wooden’s great-grandson, Tyler Trapani.  And on the Bruins’ final possession, Howland set up the Offense — even physically pushing one of them into position — and when a shot was missed, Trapani was in the right place at the right time, to get the Rebound and put it through the hoop, for his FIRST POINTS as a Bruin, and for UCLA’s FINAL-EVER basket in the original House that Wooden Built.  Not only that, but the score gave UCLA a total of 71 Points, on the night that they were honoring their ’71 Champions.

Sometimes, everything follows the script, and destiny occurs — as if the Great Wooden in the Sky actually had a hand in the outcome —  like he did in Pauley Pavilion so many times before.


2 responses to “CLOSE-OUT SAIL”

  1. Kacey Avatar

    Great game Bruins! Destiny with Wooden’s great grandson!

    If Bruins continue to play together as a team and improve week-to-week, some exciting times ahead! Go Bruins

  2. dswenson Avatar

    Loved the game and Reeves Nelson’s energy, attitude and focus. The last basket was truly something very special and, I think, engineered by some one very dear and LOVED by all of us looking down from heaven. In a big way, I hate to see Pauley renovated because COACH taught on that floor and in that building. I also remember attending UCLA and being kept informed in my classes on the construction of Pauley. I graduated in 1964 and saw Pauley being built. I would always take my high school classes to UCLA for a field trip every year, after I graduated and became a high school teacher, and we would always go into Pauley and just look around and sit. What a great feeling and what great memories. Many of my students attended UCLA.