Second-half surge is spoiled by Sophomore’s second-straight snafu in the last 72 seconds, in 70-68 Senior Day (and ’70 Day) setback
With the Bruins down by 3 with 2 minutes left, Jerime Anderson took the bull by the horns, and drove to the hoop. He got fouled, but muscled up a shot that went in. Jerime made the “and-1” Free Throw, to tie up the game. Up to that point, JA had played over 20 minutes against a tough Oregon Defense without scoring, but more importantly, he had not committed a single Turnover, and had dished out 4 Assists. Jerime was in the game for much of the Bruins’ miraculous 14-point Comeback. UCLA would not have been in a position to win this game without Anderson. But that being said…
With the score tied and 1:12 left, JA threw a pass to Nikola Dragovic, who was not in sync with Anderson, and could not adjust to save the ball. Oregon’s star Tajuan Porter then gave the Ducks the lead, with a near-prayer Three-Pointer (which cannot be blamed on bad Defense). Porter was on fire all day, leading all scorers with 29. The Bruins still had a chance to tie, but unbelievably, Jerime Anderson threw it away again. This time he was out of sync with Michael Roll, who made a move outside, as Jerime was passing him the ball to the inside. Roll had no chance to adjust, and the ball went straight out of bounds. Oregon made a couple of Free Throws to ice the game, and Roll added a meaningless 3 at the buzzer to give him 25 Points in the last Home game of his Career (barring an NIT game at Pauley).
Roll was the only Bruin who was hitting from outside. Drago struggled in HIS last Home game, spraining his ankle during warm-ups, going 1-6 from behind the arc, and missing a trey in the final minute that could have kept the Bruins alive. Malcolm Lee couldn’t hit from outside either, but he didn’t need to, as his continuous assault on the basket was impressive enough. Lee somehow found openings in the Paint, and all night long made a series of spectacular reverse lay-ups and dunks that netted him 18 Points, and some respect from Bruin fans, who might have forgotten how athletic he is, and what a good finisher he CAN be.
Brendan Lane also impressed in the losing effort. Lane, coming off an ankle sprain, showed more strength than usual, grabbing 5 Boards, and scoring 8 Points on 4-for-4 shooting. Lane was really working hard all day, fighting off burly Ducks for position. Senior Mustafa Abdul-Hamid, who started because of Senior Day, made an early 3, missed another, and later, made a couple of nice entry passes. Like most Bruin fans, I have nothing but respect for Abdul-Hamid — another fine Bruin like James Keefe and Michael Roll — None of them will bring any shame to the University.
On the contrary, Abdul-Hamid is more likely to bring accolades to UCLA, probably for curing a disease or saving a distant civilization from extinction. The kid has “work ethic,” “brains,” and therefore, “success” written all over him. [Note: No offense to Spencer Soo or any of the graduating Managers, but I don’t know anything about them to share here. Of course, I wish them all luck and success in the future, and thank them for their contributions to the Program.]
Speaking of success, Tyler Honeycutt continued his all-around excellence. Even while the Nelson-and-Keefe-less Bruins were getting pummelled on the Glass, Honeycutt pulled down 13 Caroms. He also dished out NINE Assists, snatched THREE Steals, and Blocked TWO shots. The problem was that he scored only 4 Points, possibly because he was battling foul trouble all game. [By the way: I thought Ben Howland brought Honeycutt back in with 4 fouls too early, with over 8 minutes left. I was wrong and Howland — who was out of time outs with 12 minutes left — was right.] Honeycutt’s low Point Total comes on the heels of his Career-high 18, so maybe Ernie Kent’s Ducks schemed to shut down Tyler, in order to nip the trend in the bud. With Nelson out, the Bruins needed some more Points in the Paint from Honeycutt. Lee filled that void nicely, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to overcome the two huge miscues that will probably have Bruin fans waiting at the airport for Lazeric Jones’ plane to land next year. HOWEVER —
As a wise friend said to me at Pauley after the game: “I’m probably the only one, but I haven’t given up on Jerime Anderson yet.” Well, he’s not the only one who still has hopes for Jerime’s salvation. Anyone who remembers how Bruins like Cedric Bozeman, Ryan Hollins, and Drew Olson (in Football) improved exponentially from their humble Westwood beginnings, should understand the concept of patience, and the concept of “supporting” ALL of their fellow Bruins. That being said, I am, like everyone else, eager to see Jones compete with Anderson and Lee for the Guard Positions next year.
And by the way, THIS year still isn’t over. After the Arizona trip, the Bruins get the Pac-10 Tournament. And even though they lost on Saturday, they did prove that they certainly CAN beat the Ducks on any given day, especially if Reeves Nelson plays. SO… there is still really no team in the Tourney that the Bruins CAN’T beat. Sure, they are highly unlikely to put together three straight solid efforts, especially in three straight nights, but Ben Howland teams have been known to peak in March. Winning that Title would absolutely erase most of the pain that this season has caused, making the future memory of it not nearly so unpalatable.
Below are 31 photos from Saturday. The photos all have hidden pop-up mouse-over captions. And don’t forget: The photos ENLARGE if you click on them. If you like the pics, don’t be afraid to donate to the cause, and make sure to check back over the next few days, as more photos from Saturday are imminent.