Stalled — Frigid-from-the-perimeter UCLA gets knocked out of March Madness by #1 overall seed Florida, again — the fourth time in less than a decade that the Gators have ended the Bruins’ season, 79-68

No shame in losing to the overall #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time in 6 years… but why did it have to be Florida, again?  Is it just coincidence — the (bad) luck of the draw — or does the NCAA Basketball Selection Committee have a sick sense of humor and a hatred of their Sport’s most storied Program?  Why do the Bruins keep getting matched up with the Gators?

This year, the Bruins were matched up with Florida in the Sweet 16, but they didn’t match up well with the Senior-laden team with a 28-game win streak, a physical front line, and a smothering Defense.  Florida led through most of the first half, as UCLA’s star players were debilitated by foul trouble.  Team Leader Kyle Anderson had another subpar game, and leading scorer Jordan Adams could only muster 4 points before the break, and Florida took a 6-point lead into the locker room.  Anderson was not himself, but the Bruins still did okay when he was on the floor.  It was when Anderson went to the bench that the Bruins really lost their mojo.

Florida built the margin up to 11 at 50-39 in the second half, before the Bruins went on a 16-6 run to cut the deficit to 1.  But the Gators responded with a 7-0 spurt of their own —  They bumped the lead up to 11 again, and once again, the Bruins refused to go away, cutting the lead back down and getting in striking distance.  But in crunch time, the Bruins’ inability to hit outside shots — they went only 3-18 from behind the arc — doomed their ability to mount one last comeback.  In the waning moments, the Bruins tried to Press, but the Gators went deep, and got easy baskets to put the game away.

Last week, UCLA won by efficiently executing their Offense, getting a high percentage of baskets off of Assists, and not turning the ball over.  But on Thursday night, this M.O. was mastered by Florida, while the Bruins failed to get Assists and struggled to avoid Turnovers.  The Bruins showed heart, and never quit, but this Offense-first team is nothing when they can’t shoot, and whether it was Florida’s Defense or just UCLA’s bad shooting night, the balls weren’t going down, so instead the Bruins went down, unable to reach even 69 points, after averaging 82 on the year.

The bad news is bound to start flooding in, as Anderson, Adams, and Zach LaVine are all likely to declare for the NBA Draft, bailing on UCLA prematurely.  Too bad, because if they all stayed, UCLA, with their highly-touted incoming Freshman class next season, would be a Top 5 Preseason team, with a great chance to exact revenge on the Gators, when the two teams would have inevitably been placed in the same regional bracket… again.  But if they all leave, the Bruins might not even make the Tourney.  Could be a tough sophomore campaign for Head Coach Steve Alford, if he is unable to coax any of these three stars to stay.




2 responses to “FOUR ON THE FLOR-IDA”

  1. Bruin86 Avatar

    It was great to see the Bruins build momentum this season with unselfish play, true athletes, and a Pac12 championship. Kyle is special and I wish him well in his NBA career. I wish Zach would not go one and done because he really would be great in another year at UCLA but it’s clear he will have a stellar professional career in the future. I really hope that Jordan and Norman will stay another year since they are so very special and will be the core leaders for Bruins next season. We will really miss the Wear twins and I’m so thankful they came back to UCLA and played through senior year. Tony Parker is a beast and will be great next season. He is developing into a tremendous player with so much force under the hoop. Bryce impressed me and will be a key leader in the off season and next year. Good season! I wanted to Beat Florida so much but thankful we got the Pac12 tourney trophy and win versus Zona! Go Bruins! Fight, fight, fight!

  2. JC Avatar

    LeVine may have a great professional career, but it is very uncertain that he will have a great NBA career.