A cold, cold day

As hot as UCLA shot in the first half of its 72-70 win over Arizona State on Thursday, hitting 83 percent from the field and 80 percent from behind the 3-point line, the Bruins discovered how the other half lives on Saturday morning at Pauley Pavilion against Arizona.
Apparently, the other half lives in a desolate wasteland of sorrow, no sun creeping through the clouds, dreary, bleak, cold.

UCLA slept through the first half of a 77-63 loss to the Wildcats, only awakening to take off-balance shots, hitting just 5-of-24 from the field for 20.8 percent.

Sophomore guard Malcolm Lee blamed it on the 10 a.m. start: “We weren’t prepared.”
Head coach Ben Howland blamed it on shot selection: “We were so sped up that it really hurt us.”

Senior forward Nikola Dragovic didn’t know what to blame: “It was shocking. I thought we were open.”
They were not.

While Arizona State played a zone defense and could not handle the Bruins’ screen-and-slips – Dragovic was especially effective, hitting all five of his 3-pointers in the first half on Thursday – the Wildcats had no such problem in their man-to-man defense. Arizona, which won at Pauley Pavilion for the first time since 2004-05, hedged UCLA’s screens around the perimeter and aggressively attacked the Bruin shooters, forcing hurried shots with little opening.

“We were taking quick, rushed shots,” Howland said. “We were forcing shots, instead of being patient and letting shots come to us. A number of those shots from the perimeter, the defense sped us up. You have to be able to play slow on offense and read things. … They were in man to man almost the whole game, but they were just hard-hedging. They really came out and aggressively attacked the guy with the ball.”

The Wildcats were equally aggressive offensively.

Arizona (7-7, 1-1) scored 17 points off 15 UCLA turnovers, with guards Kyle Fogg and Nic Wise pushing the tempo. Fogg had a game-high 25 points, including 19 in the second half on 7-of-8 shooting, and Wise added eight points and five assists.

As the Wildcats quickly built their lead – a 14-13 Arizona advantage with 10 minutes, 46 seconds left in the first half became a 29-14 lead just under six minutes later – the Bruins (6-8, 1-1) wilted equally as fast. Shoulders slumped and chins drooped, while Howland shook his head and looked to the heavens, hoping for answers.

UCLA found none.

“We were physically ready, but our mindset wasn’t,” said Lee, who along with guard Michael Roll led the team with 15 points. “Better preparation would have made a better outcome. Getting up, getting loose, getting pumped. Last time we played early in the morning it was a bad game, too. We just have to be better prepared.”

Whether simply unprepared or just flat-out cold, UCLA was a different team on Saturday, shooting 40.8 percent for the game.

Against the Sun Devils, the Bruins led by as many as 16 points; on Saturday, UCLA led just once, two minutes into the game at 4-2.

“Contain and contest – they put a show on early (against Arizona State); I know Dragovic had about five threes in a row – so that was a huge point of emphasis for us,” said Arizona forward Jamelle Horne, who scored 17 points. “They were going to get their fair share of looks, we just wanted to make them difficult. The coaches say, ‘Do what we do,’ and that’s what we did. We always jump ball screens, we’re very aggressive on defense, and it paid off for us tonight.”

The Wildcats saw the Bruins’ bad body language and pounced, unwilling to relent. After UCLA cut the lead to 12 with 14:22 left to play, Arizona went on a 14-6 run over the next four minutes to stretch it back to 20.

“With 10 minutes left in the first half, we just saw all the momentum shift to our side,” said Wildcat forward Derrick Williams, who added 16 points and nine rebounds. “Even though it was their home game, we took it right from them.”

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  • Dean

    The bigger story is how Howland’s refusal to mix in zone defense, part of the success had on Thursday, put this team in a good position to lose the game. Can he really not see that our guards cannot stay in front on 50% of the guards of our opponents? Can he really see that we don’t have a true shot blocker to turn away guards that slash into the paint?
    This team should play zone at least 50% of the time. They have fast hands and slow feet. It gives them the best chance to win.
    The one time we truly played zone defense, zona jacked up a bad shot. Though it went in, it was our best defensive possession.
    Also, we cannot rebound at all. So any argument that playing zone gives up rebounds is short-sighted … we cannot rebound in man either.

  • Anonymous

    Excuses, excuses. It was 10am for both teams.

  • Anonymous

    Short-sighted would be thinking that Howland doesn’t have other reasons for not playing zone. He’ll sacrifice some games this year to develop these young players. Trust that he knows what he’s doing…

  • Anonymous

    wrong. it was 11am for Arizona. They are in a different time zone.

  • Anonymous

    I guess Jon’s post about Dragovic Heating up was a bit premature. Everyone thought SUC would be the team that struggles this season. Wow, WTF is going on here.

    If CBH is committed to develp these young players, he wouldn’t have played Dragovic 33 minutes and Lane 6 minutes. The season is a rebuilding one. Why give 35 and 33 minutes in a blow out game to Roll and Dragovic? Bobo played 2 minutes, Moser didn’t make it into the rotation at all. Next year is suppose to get better? How? If Dragovic is getting all the minutes and Keefe is getting more time than Lane and Moser, how are they going to gain valuable experience for next season? I’m not saying to give up on this season but in a blow-out games, get the seniors out of the game. Let the young kids play. Keep Dragovic and Keefe on the bench and play Roll as he has become our first or second option.

    This team has no go-to guy, no upperclassmen leadership at all. Roll and Dragovic should never be first options, but sadly they often are. Keefe has always been a disappointment since freshman year. I know he’s been hurt alot in his career but how he became a McDonald’s AA is just crazy to me. The guy plays hard no doubt. But he is slooooow. Almost always guarantee Keefe will pick up a foul or two in the first couple minutes in a game. Bottom line is many Bruin fans are disappointed at Jerime Anderson’s play, the jury is still out on him. However, the verdict on Keefe is that he is a BUST. One of the biggest BUSTS ever at UCLA.

  • Biff

    Loooong season. Bruins just not very good. Should play Honeycutt more. And like anonymous said play the young guys more minutes for next year. I guess if they want to win they need Roll and Dragovic but they need to be on. If the game is out of hand, put the young guys in.

  • Anonymous

    A new year but the same trolls on Inside USC, spedjones and Charlie Bucket.

    Apparently, Charlie who would rather spend his New Year’s Eve trying to get the attention of Trojans then celebrate with loved ones.

  • Dean

    Presumably, Drago and Roll are winning their minutes in practice. That reflects my understanding of Howland’s system.
    But, Howland has said that he believes that these lineups give him the best chance to win. He has always done this and has a history of playing freshman and sophomores. Gordon got a lot of minutes but he clearly wasn’t the coach’s favorite player.
    He didn’t do a good job recruiting into his system, so therefore he needs to be more open to adjust the system to suit the players that he has.
    The young players we have aren’t going to magically grow into a championship team.
    Not next year either.
    So, if we were really trying to argue that Howland knows best and this is all part of some master plan, I’m having a hard time seeing it. Suggesting that we tanked a game a home to a key recruiting rival is borderline idiotic.

  • ND sucks

    Who’s suggesting we tank a game? When the game is out of hand, why keep Dragovic in the game? Let other guys play and get some game action. Obviously, the lineup that give him the best chance to win is losing big time. His best lineups are not working with ND in them.
    ND is a very streaky shooter. We saw that last year as well. When he is hot, he’s dead on. Just as he put up 23 against ASU. However, he’s more miss than hit. What’s he shooting from 3s this year? less than 25%? You could tell from the first ten minutes that ND was having an off day. Once he starts the game cold, he almost never gets hot. It’s more idiotic to stay with ND in games like that. ND may shoot like Reggie Miller in practice but in real game situation, he puts up more BPG than anybody in the nation (bricks per game).

  • Questionssssssss

    Does Lane look like another James Keefe? Let’s hope not. Well, at least Lane’s not a McDonald’s All-American. So expectations for Lane is not that high.

    Is Moser that bad in practice that he barely got a few minutes against ASU and none today?

    Have Bruin fans and Howland given up on Bobo?

    Is Laz Jones really the answer to our PG problem? What if Lee bolts to NBA in March? A guard rotation of Anderson, Jones, and Lamb next year? Another long season? Will McCallum still come to UCLA?

    Who can answer all these questions and more?

  • Anonymous

    correction, Moser played against DSU, not ASU.

  • Dean

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Anon@3:40pm suggested that Howland’s mastermind system is beyond us laymen.

    Drago is better inside the 3pt line, yet Howland keeps him on the floor thinking that at any given point he’s going to blow it up like on Thursday.
    If that’s the case, let him take 2 shots and bench if they don’t go in. He’s been a black hole with only a few exceptions the last two seasons. For every game we win when he’s on fire, we seem to lose two more.

    One thing I noticed today about him is that he’s not terribly alert. I think twice he wasn’t looking when Lee or Anderson were trying to create something and tried to dish it to him.


    And suddenly that SC-ucla clash on January 16 is looking more and more as if it will be competitive, unlike the fairly regular bruin bashings of Troy at Pauley. And perhaps there will be more than the usual throng of 100 or less Trojans present so I will have somebody watching my back for a change.

    But the bigger question is will anybody care about the outcome of this game other than the dozen or so posters on this blog…and me?

    Well, it STILL is SC-ucla.


  • UCLA78

    “Against the Sun Devils, the Bruins led by as many as 16 points; on Saturday, UCLA led just once, two minutes into the game at 4-2.”

    That’s not quite accurate, Jon. I was at the game, and then finally got around to watching my TiVo recording of the game last night. UCLA’s led several times early in the game. The last Bruin lead was 14-13, after which Arizona went on their blitzkrieg to the 35-20 halftime lead.