A dominating – and emotional – win

Reeves Nelson walked into a throng of UCLA students a conquering hero, his arms thrown into the air, swallowed whole by the blue hole.

Tyler Trapani – John Wooden’s great-grandson – hit a throw-away bucket with the seconds
ticking off, making head coach Ben Howland break down into tears.
The 1971 UCLA national championship team was honored, introduced by legendary coach Denny Crum.

Oh, and the Bruins just happened to play their most thoroughly dominant game of the year, a 71-49 demolition of Arizona that ties the team atop the Pac-10 conference.

Now Pauley Pavilion goes under wraps for a year, renovations sending UCLA on the road even for home games next year.

What a send-off.

“I told them, ‘This is going to be our best win of the year,’ (on Friday),” Howland said. “And it was.”
In putting together two complete halves for the first time perhaps all season, the Bruins looked nothing like the team that lost at Arizona by 11 earlier this year.

On that Thursday night in late-January, Wildcat forward Derrick Williams had his way, scoring 22 points and generally looking like the Pac-10 player of the year favorite.

Reeves Nelson remembered that night, and he reminded Howland of it on Thursday, after the Bruins defeated Arizona State 71-53.

Nelson walked straight up Howland and demanded – well, “strongly requested,” he said – to guard Williams on Saturday in the pivotal matchup.

Even Nelson, though, full of bravado and tattoos, could not have expected the performance he delivered. In addition to scoring a career-high 27 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, Nelson played full-throttle on Williams, holding the potential top-five NBA draft pick to 15 points, including just two in the second half.

“I’ve been told that some people say I can’t play defense, really,” Nelson said. “I just take that very personally. I’m still working on my help-side, but I’ve always been very confident in my man-to-man defense. If Derrick Williams is a top-five pick in the NBA, and I hold him to two points in the second half, then I’m proud of my own effort.”

Nelson was at his best when UCLA needed it most.
After sophomore small forward Tyler Honeycutt threw down a slam dunk for two of his 15 points with just less than nine minutes to play in the first half, Nelson exploded, scoring the team’s next seven points in less than two minutes.

Freshman center Joshua Smith took his lead, scoring seven quick points himself, and the Bruins went from three down to nine up in less than six minutes.

“I can’t say enough about Reeves,” Howland said. “This was an unbelievably complete game. To have that many rebounds, that many points, and to play that great defense against arguably the best player in the conference?”

UCLA (21-8, 12-4) parlayed the first-half success and a rousing crowd – most of the packed house delivered the “Blue Out” that the marketing department called for – into ruthless efficiency in the second half. The Bruins maintained a double-digit lead for much of the half, and after Arizona (23-6, 12-4) put on a mini-run, cutting the lead from 21 to nine with 4:36 left, UCLA closed things out with a 14-1 run the rest of the way.

“We’ve had trouble all year putting two halves together,” Honeycutt said. “I think we made a statement. It boosts our confidence not winning by five. It lets us know how good we can be.”
It also reminded quite a few in attendance of how good they once were.

As much as Saturday’s game was about the present – and UCLA’s present is pretty good, the team having won 18-of-22 games – it was just as much about the past.

The ’71 team was serenaded by cheers, Pauley Pavilion erupting for Sidney Wicks and Co., and there were Wooden tributes aplenty.

None more fitting than at the end, when a 3-point attempt by walk-on Jack Haley dropped ever so softly into Trapani’s hands. Trapani corralled the ball, and mustering as much composure as he could, gently lofted the ball off the glass and into the basket.

The last points in the venerated building, the House that Wooden Built, for more than a year.

“I pray a lot,” Howland said, once more breaking into tears. “…and to have Trapani make that last shot means so much to me. You have no idea. And I know it does to his family. You couldn’t have written it any better.
“This was a great day for us.”

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UCLA smashes Arizona, 71-49

UCLA head coach Ben Howland was all tears, done in by the sheer emotion of the occasion.
His players were all smiles, simply elated because of a tremendous performance.
One grinned bigger, though, because of both.
The final basket in the current Pauley Pavilion was dropped in off the glass by John Wooden’s great-grandson Tyler Trapani, and he basked in the attention of the post-game press conference, seemingly enjoying the talk about UCLA’s win more than his own shot.
And what a win it was.
UCLA thoroughly dismantled No. 10 Arizona on Saturday, 71-49, to tie for the Pac-10 lead at 12-4 with two games to play.
In playing their most complete game of the season, the Bruins shook off an eary three-point deficit with a 33-11 run that stretched nearly 20 minutes.
That’s when Reeves Nelson took over.
Nelson had a career-high 27 points and 16 rebounds and played sensational defense on Derrick Williams, after telling Howland he wanted the mano-a-mano matchup after UCLA’s win over Arizona State on Thursday.
Williams had 15 points but only two in the second half as the Wildcats shot just 25 percent in the half, 31.5 percent for the game.
When it wasn’t Nelson doing the dirty work, it was Joshua Smith and Tyler Honeyutt. Smith had 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Honeycutt added 15, including eight early points.

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UCLA leads Arizona 40-30 at half

This was the half Ben Howland spent the season dreaming about.

The visions danced around Howland’s subconscious, R.E.M. never better: UCLA playing gritty defense, handling the glass, moving with efficiency and rhythm.

For the first 20 minutes today, the Bruins danced alright, waltzing right over Arizona for a 40-30 halftime advantage.

Reeves Nelson took the lead, scoring 16 first-half points and grabbing 10 rebounds while carrying UCLA back from a small deficit along with Joshua Smith.

Down 19-18 with 8:49 left in the half, Nelson scored 10 and Smith seven in a 5-plus minute stretch, the Bruins taking a 36-28 lead before going into the half up 40-30.

Before Nelson and Smith took charge, Tyler Honeycutt was having his way, scoring an early eight points, but more importantly, taking care of the ball.

Honeycutt had zero turnovers, the Bruins only had five as a team, and aside from foul trouble – Smith, Stover and Lazeric Jones each have two – UCLA played its best half of the season, despite 13 points from Arizona’s Derrick Williams.

But here’s the catch: Can they keep Howland’s dreams alive?

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UCLA Blue Out set for tomorrow

From UCLA:

Basketball fans, we invite you to “Blue Out Sell Out” on Saturday, February 26th, at 1pm. This
event is the final men’s basketball game in Pauley Pavilion before this legendary venue closes for renovation.

Looking for seats to a sold out game? Buy tickets direct from season ticket holders at Bruin TicketExchange by Ticketmaster, the official TicketExchange of the Bruins.

Promotions for this memorable occasion include:

Wear Blue: Calling all Bruins to wear blue! Show your school pride and provide the team with a great home court atmosphere in this pivotal conference game. Update your BLUE at the UCLA Store – Ackerman Union. Our last “Two ’til Tip Off” event gives all UCLA Bruin fans the opportunity to save 20% off all Bearwear two hours prior to the game. Doors open to Ackerman Union at 11 am.

Fan Appreciation – Photo On the Court: Fans will be provided the opportunity to take a photo on Nell and John Wooden Court after the game! Bruins, bring your camera and you can capture a memory of Pauley Pavilion that lasts a lifetime. Several photographers and Athletics Staff will be on hand at various court locations to facilitate this special gesture in appreciation for our fans.

As fans wait to take their photo, enjoy the AM570 KLAC Bruin Locker Room Report post-game show brought to you by IMG College over the public address system, watch all 15 former student-athletes’ full interviews as they remember Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success blocks and all 20 of Pauley Pavilion’s Greatest Moments on the videoboard.
Concessions and restrooms will also remain open post-game during the photograph promotion.

Can’t stay after the game? Bring your men’s basketball vs. Arizona ticket stub for free admission to one of the following events for an additional opportunity take a photo on Nell and John Wooden Court after the event:

Women’s Basketball vs. Washington State: Saturday, March 5th, 2pm

Men’s Volleyball vs. UC Irvine: Thursday, March 24th, 7pm

Pauley Pavilion’s Legacy: Former assistant coach and great Denny Crum will speak to recognize the legacy and tradition of Pauley Pavilion.

Pauley Pavilion’s Greatest Moments: In celebration of 45 years in Pauley Pavilion we will present you with the #1 Pauley Pavilion Greatest Moment (voted on by you the fans) on the videoboard.

Retro Uniforms: As we honor Pauley Pavilion’s history, the players will participate too. Our Bruins will sport retro uniforms!

1971 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: Bruins reunite for the 40th Anniversary of our 1971 NCAA Championship team. The coaches and players will be introduced on the court at halftime.

Commemorative Pauley Pavilion ticket for all fans
John Wooden Pyramid of Success for all fans (courtesy of Fox Sports Net)
Rally Towel for all fans, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California
Bruin Bucks Coupon books for all fans upon exit
Sunglasses to the first 1,500 UCLA students

“Blue Out” Contest: Show your fellow fans that you have the greatest Bruin passion! Wear
UCLA gear head-to-toe, blue face paint, blue hair, you get the picture!
Report (dressed in your “bluest” Bruin outfit) to either the marketing table located outside Gate 2 or on the floor-level near the visitors’ bench between 12pm-12:30pm to enter. Five (5) finalists will receive a pair of 2011-12 Men’s Basketball season tickets. Our grand prize winner will also receive two (2) all-session tickets to the 2011 Pac-10 Basketball Tournament & a $250 UCLA Store gift certificate!

Pyramid of Success: Rafer Johnson will recall his memories of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success top block, “Competitive Greatness” on the videoboard.

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Howland Phone Conference

On keeping the team from getting over-hyped:
Howland: “They’re all big games as far as I’m concerned. It will be an electric atmosphere, because it’s the last game. I want our guys to be excited. This is what you play for. To play against a great team in Arizona.”

On the conference having two powers – UCLA and Arizona – doing well:
Howland: “As far as I’m concerned, its great. I’m speaking for us. We’ve had a really good last two-thirds of our season. I’m excited for our players. This is the time of year that’s very fun as we get towards the end.”

On doing things different against Derrick Williams:
Howland: “He played well against us the first game. He had 22 points, really did a good job shooting the ball. He’s a fantastic player – when you look at his stats, he’s shooting 67 percent from 3 for the season. That is stunning. sixty-seven percent from 3? There’s really no easy answer to solving him. He’s really good. He leads the country in getting to the free throw line. He’s just a great all-around player.”

On Arizona’s other shooters coming up big for them:
Howland: “They shoot 44 percent as a team from three in conference games. That is really an incredible stat. They’re far and away the best 3-point shooting team. In conference games, the three top shooters are all from Arizona. If you try to double (Williams), he’s passing out to a number of guys.”

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