It would’ve Ben Stiller in Kansas if the Refs didn’t Rob DiNero from UCLA: #4 Jayhawks get cut down to size by Honeycutt (33, 9), Smith (17, 13), and the Bruins, and need a cheap foul call with 0.7 seconds left to Reel in their 64th straight win in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, 77-76
This is a bad week for bad omens. Is this the week where crappy Officiating in the last second of games will doom UCLA? With the UCLA-u$c Football game looming in a couple of days, the Bruin Basketball team got screwed by a pathetic call just like UCLA has so many times against the trojans in Football.
After Tyler Honeycutt had tied the game at 76 with 4 seconds left, with his career-high 31st, 32nd, and 33rd Points, Kansas drove down the court only to lose the ball, and in the scuffle for the loose ball, the Referees called a ridiculous, last-second foul against Malcolm Lee. A competent Ref knows that you never call a ticky-tack foul like that in the final second of a game, when the action had absolutely no effect on the game’s outcome. But this wasn’t a competent Ref. This was a fool, who knew that he screwed up, but still held his hand up high, signalling the foul. The other Refs knew that the call should never have been made, so they all went to the video monitor, hoping that they could rule that the call happened after time expired. But the INCIDENTAL contact occurred with 0.7 seconds left, so they allowed Kansas to go to the line, with the tied game hanging in the balance. The Jayhawk made the first, and intentionally missed the second, ending the Bruins’ hopes for a monumental, Nationally-televised upset… and setting the stage for a DOUBLE DOSE, when the Bruins face the Ref-bribing Cheaters on Saturday night.
The horrible call ruined Tyler Honeycutt’s best game ever, and Joshua Smith’s Official Coming Out party. And it also sent Ben Howland into his most ballistic reaction since coming to UCLA. Honeycutt was the Offensive go-to guy all night, with the Bruins repeatedly setting double-screens to get him open. Honeycutt hit 5 of 6 3-pointers — 2 that were “and-1’s” — and 6 of 7 Free Throws, to total 33 Points. He also skied for 9 Boards. And equally important, Honeycutt finally resisted the temptation to make fancy passes to teammates in traffic. He delivered 4 Assists against only (for him) 3 Turnovers, and one of those was an Offensive Foul, NOT a bad pass. Honeycutt was on fire, and a couple of times he tried too hard to drive, but his passing was 100 times more under control than in the previous games. You could actually see him think twice and hold up on a few possessions where he thought he had an open man underneath. Obviously, Howland got through to him this week in practice.
Howland also made another brilliant move, in the process of thoroughly outcoaching Bill Self. To keep Joshua Smith out of foul trouble, he started Brendan Lane in his place. Lane picked up 2 early fouls, and eventually fouled out without scoring, but the strategy worked perfectly. Smith came in after the flow of the game was already established, meaning that the Refs had already set the tone. So Smith was able to go to work underneath, and, according to Self, he completely dominated the huge Kansas front line. KU had no answer for Joshua, who helped UCLA own the Glass, with 13 Caroms. He also had his way with the Jayhawk Defense. Almost every time the Bruins fed Smith down low, he was able to get off a good shot, or get fouled, or get his own Rebound off his misses. He wound up with 17 Points, and sent fair warning to the Pac-10, that he is for REAL, and not too out-of-shape to be a FORCE this season.
Smith and Honeycutt gave Howland plenty to smile about, but when the Refs pulled the rug out from under UCLA, Howland went nuts. He screamed that the call was “Bullsh!t,” and then he wound up and threw something at his bench with all the ferocity he could muster. He almost trampled an Assistant in the process. I have NEVER seen Ben this upset, and of course, he had every right to be.
The Bruins played a great game overall, in a game that they were expected to lose by SIXTEEN points. Reeves Nelson gave a great effort helping out on the front line, and Anthony Stover contributed when Lane was in foul trouble. Point Guard Lazeric Jones made some huge plays, but was also in foul trouble, forcing Howland to rely too much on Jerime Anderson. Jerime played some of his best ball for most of the game, but then struggled under pressure, making several crucial mistakes down the stretch. I’m not sure if Jones was injured, but Anderson was in during crunchtime, when I would have had Jones on the floor instead, and it couldn’t have been just due to the foul trouble.
Tyler Lamb made a long 2-point jumper early, but the confidence-builder did NOT lead to the scoring outburst that many are expecting from him. And the other Guard, Malcolm Lee — who I don’t blame for the game-losing foul (because he was just hustling to get the ball) — did not follow up his last gem of a game with another one. Lee struggled to score all night, as the Bruin Guard quartet got outplayed by Kansas, and that was the difference in the game. And keep in mind that Kansas is missing their phenom Freshman Point Guard Josh Selby, who is still suspended. When he joins the Jayhawks, they will be even tougher to beat, assuming Selby lives up to the hype. So even though the Bruins outplayed KU last night, I don’t want to face them again come March.
I know that you hate moral victories, and so do I, but losing to Kansas IN Kansas by one BOGUS point can only be considered a POSITIVE development for the Bruins. However, there will be no such thing as a moral victory this coming Saturday night.