UCLA offense crumbles

How does a UCLA men’s basketball team score only four points in nearly seven minutes?
For the bumbling Bruins on Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion, it was shockingly simple.

Senior forward Nikola Dragovic misses a couple off-balance shots and the team turns the ball over. Freshman forward Reeves Nelson can’t convert inside and sophomore shooting guard Malcolm Lee starts hoisting ill-advised 3-pointers.

USC put the clamps on UCLA early and built an 11-point lead to start the game, ultimately closing out the Bruins 67-46 on Saturday.

For measure, it was the Bruins’ worst loss to their cross-town rival in 65 years and the Trojans’ biggest win ever at Pauley Pavilion over UCLA.

“Our guys were pumped up for the game, so I think that contributed to a few of the early mishaps,” said UCLA head coach Ben Howland, whose team tied for its season-low 3-point shooting percentage at just 3-for-20. “We’re going to have to start the game just being in motion, understanding that we’re going to wait. We just struggled to score. We couldn’t score.”

Unlike against Cal on Jan. 6, though, UCLA (7-10, 2-3) could not turn it on in the second half.

Against the Bears, the Bruins shot 42 percent in the first half, and 2-for-11 from behind the 3-point line, before closing the game by hitting 7-of-9 3-pointers and 12-of-21 field goals in a last-second win.

There was no comeback against USC.

Employing new head coach Kevin O’Neill’s stifling man-to-man defense, the Trojans (11-6, 3-2) bottled up the interior, forced bad shots and generally frustrated the Bruins.

“We’ve been easing in and not coming out of the blocks every game. Tonight we got off to a great start; I thought we defended at a high level most of the game. We put ourselves in a position to win and didn’t let down throughout the game.”

One reason for UCLA’s poor performance, at least according to Lee: USC’s advance scouting.

“They really had our plays scouted really well,” Lee said. “The second half they forced us to go more in motion; they were defending our set plays really well. It can be a little frustrating, because it feels like they know what we’re doing. Man, we have to have a counter for that.”

The Bruins, though, had no counter.

Lee and senior guard Michael Roll each had 12 points while combining for 9-of-23 shooting, but UCLA’s other three starters – Nelson, Dragovic and freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt – finished a combined 3-for-15, with Dragovic shooting just 0-for-6.
Howland was concerned with Dragovic’s shot selection, as he took a number of fadeaway, tilted 3-pointers that clanked hard off the rim.

“It was very disappointing,” Howland said. “He took some bad shots today, and he has to understand that this is the result when you don’t wait for it. They were forcing him to try to put the ball on the floor, and that’s not his strength.”

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  • Bruin hypocrite

    Like I said, you can hear the crickets , where’s the gloating?

  • dodgers55555

    USC just also banned UCLA from postseason play…How embarrassing for a basketball school which supposedly has high ranked recruits. Worse in football (given) but worse in basketball when USC is supposedly under duress? I can’t even begin to imagine how ridiculous you must feel. I’d be astonished if you’d begin bashing on usc when the only thing you have to celebrate is an Eagle Bank Bowl victory over a temple team which hadn’t played in a bowl game in 30 YEARS!

  • So Cal

    Just like football, bRuins… outclassed, plain and simple.

  • Anonymous

    bh – can’t u see it? u r the one who is gloating now, on the ucla blog even. look at the mirror when u start complaining about gloating after wins, being quiet after losses.

  • Cali

    Riddle me this, how could our offense crumble when we never have one to begin with. It all started before this season. So sad!

  • BE REAL

    Just got back from Pauley and these are my observations:

    1. A lot of empty seats around the stadium, but still probably about 10,000 or so bruin faithful. SC had about 300 supporters in ol’ Section 308, the nosebleed section. But I think the 300 were louder than the 10,000.

    2. Did the teams change uniforms? I have been going to Pauley for a long time, and I have never seen an SC team play such a complete game, and ucla utilize playground tactics with those long, low-percentage 3s. SC was going inside over and over and ucla had a difficult time replicating the effort.

    3. It had to be a boring, boring game for bruin fans, sans drama. But the Trojans ate it up. Maybe this guy Kevin O’Neill (K.O.) knows something about coaching.

    4. And switching subjects, for the record, I always contended that football coach Kiffin and Chow would be like oil and water. Kiffin gave Chow a courtesy call, but there was no way this was going to work. And guess what?– a lot of people think Kiffin will be a great coach. The SC players loved the energy and the “newness” at their first meeting with Kiff and ‘O’. I hate to be the bearer (get it?) of bad news, but I think ol’ SC will not miss a beat.

    Out for Now,

    LAWYER JOHN

  • Anonymous

    dodgers, of course you know the feeling. You’re a dodger and suc fan.

    suc hasn’t won Pac-10 in 25 years and once in the last 50 years.

    Dodgers haven’t won W.S. since ’88. Punked by Utley and crew the last two years.

    But just like your fellow toejam, mark mcgwire, you’re not here to talk about the past, huh?

    Hope you TiVo your Nut Bowl win so you can watch it again in December when your sitting at home because of the sanctions.

  • rejn

    JON – OK, we all know the BB season is or is going to be a disaster. Let’s move on.

    I know you have a job to report the BB news, but more importantly, how did the recruiting day go? Any news to report? Any scoop from the recruits on their official visits? Is UCLA going to get any commitments from anybody new this weekend? What about a QB? Did you get a chance to talk to Neuheisel? Chow? Do they think they have a chance to get Nottingham to flip back to UCLA?

    Any news you can provide would be appreciated. And please don’t think I’m not interested in BB. I love UCLA BB, but you know just as much as anyone else what the hot topic is this week.

    Thanks.

    ps: That was a great podcast with this week. Great chat with Ben. You guys were outstanding.

  • Anonymous

    Did Malcolm Lee just say they got outcoached or throw his coaches under the bus?

    One reason for UCLA’s poor performance, at least according to Lee: USC’s advance scouting.

    “They really had our plays scouted really well,” Lee said. “The second half they forced us to go more in motion; they were defending our set plays really well. It can be a little frustrating, because it feels like they know what we’re doing. Man, we have to have a counter for that.”

  • Dean

    I think Malcolm Lee experiment at PG has failed. If it’s so important to get Honeycutt in the game, how about in place of Dragovic? It seems that Howland’s game plan suggests that we’re going to lose if Drago isn’t going 5/5 from behind the arc …

    BTW, their point guard had twice any rebounds as our starting center and power forward COMBINED.

  • Anonymous

    A 21 point loss to USC. Why does that sound so familiar?

  • WTF

    Gerrity looks like he’s about 40 years old. No way he’s a college kid.

  • Anonymous

    Lee is a turnover machine with the ball in his hands. They don’t all go on the stat sheet, but if you count poor shot selection he’d be good for 10+ TOs a game. It’s not just him, there’s terrible shot selection all around. Nelson throws up wild prayers under the basket. Roll is rushing shots. Drago is just plain bad on both ends of the floor. I will never understand why he gets so many minutes.

  • Anonymous

    WTF, I was thinking the exact same thing…

  • Anonymous

    This is all very weird. I would feel better if Howland, too, would admit to despair. I know he can’t do that but, really, the season has taken on a kind of agonizing surreality.

    Congrats to SC. It pains me to say it, but it was hard not to like that team tonight, even as they were handing us our heads.

  • WTF

    Hey, shit happens once every 65 years or so. No big deal. Good luck waiting another 65 years for that to happen again. By then, old school would be long dead and forgotten.

  • Anonymous

    Which 21 point loss was more embarrassing, football or basketball?

  • New School

    Hey old school, are you really going to try to claim last year’s Pac-10 Tourney victory by your now departed cheating coach and disgraced program?

    Also, how about that one victory you got over us the year Kevin Love and OJ Mayo were in town? Oh, right, that’s been voided.

    Don’t worry, we’ll be you at the Galen center where UCLA has a perfect record in men’s basketball.

  • Anonymous

    New School: “Don’t worry, we’ll BE you at the Galen center…”

    It finally comes out. UCLA fans secretly want to be USC fans.

  • Anonymous

    WTF, I guess you don’t remember USC beat UCLA in the PAC 10 Tournament last year.

    I thought being “pumped up” as Howland states should lead to scoring, not mishaps! Howland had a week to prepare for this game, but it sure didn’t look as if he took the whole week.

    USC’s defense played fantastic which lead to much of the poor shooting.

  • WTF

    I do remember. I was referring to Old School’s comment about 21 pt loss, the worst loss to SC since 1945. That’s 65 years. BTW, how did Kevin O’Neill fake Gerrity’s birth certificate? The guy could be in AARP.

  • New School

    Old School: if you had an ounce of intelligence, or weren’t senile, you would probably have figured out I meant “beat” you.

    Why would a Bruin every want to be a condom anyway? Could it be the inferior academics, horrible location, dishonest athletics program, or stupid fan base?

    The bottom line is this: athletics is fun, but, when it comes down to it, UCLA is better at being a university. Suck it.

  • The Monopoly is everywhere

    So Neuheisel was talking trash… while celebrating the eaglebank bowl victory.

    that is just awesome.

  • bay bruin

    awesome, trojan fans. you beat a ucla team, which every ucla fan will admit, is a disappointment. im sure you feel awesome that you can beat a weakened team – that means that you’re better than awful, a feeling that you live for. so, enjoy your victory, it’s the first you’ve had over us with a coach that doesn’t cheat (yet) in a long time. just keep o’neil away from lame, you dont want lame’s qualities rubbing off…

  • BRUINBEATCH

    What kind of ass calls himself LAWYER JOHN? Really dick? Get over it!Everytime i see that name im like ……….what a dick!

  • Luca10

    I hope UCLA players are ashamed, they are absolutely inworthy to don those four letters across the chest

  • Anonymous

    “UCLA is better at being a university. Suck it.” … “they are absolutely inworthy”

    Way to go

  • Anonymous

    It comes down to this: suc fans who are on here talking trash and didn’t EVEN GO to suc should just go get a life. Suc fans who did go to suc and are on here talking trash are just pissed they couldn’t get into ucla. You settled for second choice, let it go.

  • Anonymous

    bay bruin said:

    “trojan fans”…”I”m sure you feel awesome that you beat a weakened team”

    USC’s football team sucked this year but I bet if your bruins went to the other side of town and won that you’d have a field day trolling on Inside USC.

    Hell, if you’re the same guy who has an account as “East_Bay_Bruin” you already do spend time trolling even though the bruins were beaten.

  • Javy

    Why are u$c fans talking smack for? This game doesnt count dumbasses!

    Its gonna say
    usc 67 UCLA 46*

    *usc not eligible for post season play due to LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL.

  • Anonymous

    28-7
    67-46

    OWNED.

    hahahahahahaha

  • Anonymous

    Javy,

    Silly rabbit, It’s not the post season. The game counts.

  • BE REAL

    Just got back from Pauley and this is my report:

    About 300 loyal SC rooters in Section 308, and we were loud. ‘Southern California’ spellout, ‘We Are-SC’, ‘Just like football,’ and finally in our closing song, ‘u-c-l-a SUCKS.’

    Our band of 300 was louder throughout the game than SUCLA’s 10,000 or so. By the way, the stands had a lot of empty seats, I would guess 2,000 perhaps, so the SUCLA rats are scurrying from their sinking basketball ship, not to mention their football tugboat.

    And it was so sweet that SUCLA was out of the game after about 7-minutes, and never got back in it, that the fans were hitting the exit at the 10 minute mark. It was a fiasco of a game for SUCLA, but I have never witnessed a better SC performance at Pauley in all the years I have been going to that hellhole.

    And, by the way, K.O. rocks.

    LAWYER JOHN

  • Anonymous

    BE REAL without a typekey = spedjones