Book ’em, Murder One — Bruin Offense takes it on the Chin in Maui, with Jones, Lamb and DWear combining to shoot 1-for-15 from the floor, and Smith committing 6 Turnovers, in bad loss to #15 Michigan, 79-63
The optimism from Tuesday night’s comeback against Kansas was all but gone by Wednesday night, as UCLA reverted back to a team that looks like it was vastly over-rated coming into the season, with a 79-63 loss to #15 Michigan.
The Bruins started out okay, taking an 8-6 lead against the Wolverines in the first 5 minutes, but then they suddenly lost all their discipline, and looked chaotic while giving up a 13-0 run. Michigan was able to get inside for easy buckets against the confused, disorganized UCLA Defense, as the Bruins couldn’t retreat quickly enough from their hedges, and couldn’t deal effectively with screens and cuts. Add to that the Michigan sharpshooters knocking down their Three’s, and the Bruins didn’t have enough firepower to keep up.
The Bruins cut the 11-point lead down to 3 in the First Half, but Michigan quickly responded. The Wolverine lead was usually between 5 and 10 for the rest of the Half, which ended at 38-31.
The Bruins never got closer than 5 after the Intermission, and about halfway through the Second Half, Michigan pulled away. The Bruins shot 0-6 from behind the arc in the Second Half, as none of the Guards could get anything going. Lazeric Jones couldn’t shake his season-long slump, going 0-5, with Tyler Lamb adding a 1-6 performance. David Wear tried to pick up the slack from the outside, but missed all 4 of his shots.
Bruin scoring came from Travis Wear, who hit two early Threes on his way to 16 Points. Jerime Anderson also hit 2 Three’s to rack up 12. JA also snagged 4 Steals, but he missed 5 makeable shots when the Bruins couldn’t afford to miss them. Josh Smith also scored 12 Points, but offset it with 6 Turnovers, 4 Fouls in only 19 minutes, and slow reactions on Defense that allowed easy buckets. Reeves Nelson, who still isn’t starting, wasn’t much help, missing 4 of his 7 shots, all in the Paint. It looked like he was trying to draw fouls, but wasn’t getting the calls. The Bruin Front Line is not living up to its preseason Press clippings — They even got outrebounded 32-24.
Except for a 10-minute period against Kansas, the Bruin D has just not been cohesive or tenacious enough to stop a decent attack. On Wednesday, they allowed Michigan to convert 61% of their Field Goals. The UCLA Defense will probably get better with time, and experience playing together, but Ben Howland might not be able to wait that long. He might have to eliminate the hedging, or maybe even go to a Zone Defense. Meanwhile, the offense needs a spark, and Howland might have to give Norman Powell a chance. Powell made some Freshman mistakes out there, but he also made two shots in a row, included a putback where he finally showed his reputed athletic prowess. If Jones doesn’t snap out of his funk, Anderson will be the Starting Point Guard, and Powell will get more p.t. at the 2.
Jones’ decline from last year’s pre-injury level is mystifying. In fact, Jones played better with two gimpy hands last season than he is playing now. He better be careful a teammate doesn’t slam a door on his hands this week.
The Bruins are now 1-4 for the first time since 1987, and Howland is searching for answers. Of course, with top 2012 Recruit Kyle Anderson lined up, Howland’s job appears safe, for now. Schemes will have to be adjusted, and shooting will have to improve, but really, it’s all about ATTITUDE, and a tenacity that has been lacking all season long. This team is not playing like a Howland team, and that will have to change, or it may not be a Howland team at all for very long.