UCLA Poise-less in Seattle

SEATTLE –

Shot after shot, dagger after dagger, C.J. Wilcox was getting harder to miss.

With every subsequent game-saving basket, the Washington Huskies guard’s star grew brighter and brighter, all the eyes of Hec Pavilion tracking him down the court.

All but UCLA’s, it seems.

There he was, tucked into the left corner for a wide-open 3-pointer, shrinking the late UCLA lead to one.

There he was at the top of the key less than three minutes later for a shot-clock-beating three-point play, the deepest cut in a 14-0 Washington run.

Wilcox was here, there, everywhere, pouring in 24 second-half points as a late surge gave the Huskies the 70-63 win at Hec Pavilion.

“We had a great opportunity to win on the road in a very tough environment,” UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. “Our defense was really good tonight, especially in the first half, with the exception of Wilcox. He had 24 points in the second half. We had a one-point lead with the ball going in, we missed a decent shot and he came down and got them going in a hurry and never stopped.”

UCLA led 53-49 with 5:55 left following a 3-pointer by Jerime Anderson, who led the team with 16 points. The Bruins were soaring, a 13-5 run lifting the team ahead of the balanced Huskies.

And then the bleeding started.

And it poured and poured and poured, UCLA needing either a timeout or a tourniquet. They had neither. Howland used all of his timeouts by the 12-minute mark in the second half, trying to stop earlier runs. And there wasn’t a bandage in Seattle big enough to stop Wilcox.

Certainly not one readily available, not with UCLA junior guard Malcolm Lee nursing cramps for a big stretch in the second quarter.

Led by Wilcox, who hit seven-of-10 shots, including four-of-seven 3-pointers in his career best performance, the Huskies simply blitzed the Bruins.

“It definitely seemed out of nowhere,” Anderson said. “I really don’t know what was going on at that time. It was such a scrambled situation. They got a lot of easy buckets, easy open shots. At that time, our defensive intensity wasn’t to where it should’ve been. That run hurt us.”

The turnovers stung a little bit more, the hydrogen peroxide in the gaping wound.

UCLA committed gaffe after gaffe during Washington’s run, the hostile environment toying with the young Bruins.

In winning their seventh straight over UCLA at Hec Pavilion, the Huskies fed off the energy of the crowd, overcoming a porous first-half to build momentum as the game got closer.

“It’s some of that, but it’s March now,” Howland said when asked if the team was affected by the crowd. “We’ve been in some tough environments and this is one of the toughest in our conference. (It hurt) not having a timeout or two to be able to shut it down there.”

The Washington crowd was particularly hostile to Bruin freshman center Joshua Smith, making his homecoming. The Kent, Wash., native – who committed to UCLA over the Huskies to the ire of Washington fans – had 12 points and 16 rebounds, but also committed five turnovers.

The Bruins finished with 18 giveaways for the game after committing just eight in the team’s 71-49 win over Arizona last Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, a win that put the team tied atop the Pac-10 with the Wildcats.

Now UCLA is a game behind with one left to play, at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Washington State.

“The turnovers hurt us,” Howland said. “Their pressure did a good job of forcing 18 turnovers. We lost our composure a couple of times.”

Never more so than with 10:45 left in the game.

With the Bruins trailing 40-38 after a Smith putback of a Reeves Nelson miss, Nelson was called for a technical foul for slapping the floor in frustration.

“I was just really upset with myself because, like I said, I couldn’t really make anything in the second half,” said Nelson, who finished with 10 points on four-of-13 shooting. “The ref thought I was upset at him but I went up to him after and said I was mad at myself. But the perception was that I was mad at him.”

Ultimately, all the Bruins are internalizing their personal frustration, knowing they let a winnable game slip away.

“I was surprised – we’re usually good at stopping the bleeding, but they have a good crowd here, and you could basically just feel the momentum shifting,” Lee said. “That’s no excuse; I still think we should’ve been able to stop the bleeding. They just got that confidence.”

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  • cliq

    I’m sorry but Nelson is a poison. 2 wide open 3′s by his man. Walks back on defense. The technical foul that just made him look like a brat (even if he says he’s blaming himself). I was at the game and the thing that upset me the most was Howland just babying him the whole time. Even he scores 20 points or 0 points, he’s always pouting. Not only is he bad for himself, but his attitude spread to other teammates. He seems like the kind of guy who thinks he’s the sh*t, and tries to bark at other people. Grabbing their jerseys pulling them in and yelling at them when in all honesty he just acts like a brat. He needs to grow up.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    Disappointing ending as the Bruins played well until they went up 53-49. The lack of any timeouts available was huge as Washington went on a run that put the game away. I’m the first to credit CBH for the team’s improvement this year, but using our final timeout by the 12-minute mark was a strategic blunder. In a nationally televised game with the abundance of TV timeouts, it’s just not a judicious use of timeouts to have none left for the final few minutes of a ballgame.

    In any case, the silver lining (for me) is that UCLA played well for most of the game and was in a position to win in a hostile environment against a good team. Washington has performed below expectations this year but there is no question they are a good, athletic team that should be considered one of the favorites to win the Pac-10 tournament.

  • Bruin89

    It doesn’t matter how good you are, how deep you are, or how big your lead… no timeouts left with 12 minutes to play is never going to end well.

  • Biff

    I want them to do well but this team seems like it is a year away. They’ve been blowing leads like this almost every game win or lose because they don’t have the experience to handle pressure well enough at the end of close big games. And Nelson, what the heck was that? Technical, lame rolled pass to the wing turnover, brick NBA three attempt, another coast to coast fastbreak attempt with a teammate open ahead ending in a charge, missed rebound by his necessary replacement Lane that resulted in a dunk for the other team, and unhandled pass by his replacement Lane that would have resulted in a dunk by Nelson had he been in. All that equals like a 19 point swing in five minutes. All Nelson. And the travel by Honeycutt, unguarded, another choke with the game on the line. NBA? Honeycutt is a year away and Nelson two if ever. And why pull Anderson when he is on fire? Who cares if he’s tired. He can rest during the tv timeout. You’ve got to go with him anyway.

  • Stan

    Turnovers is this teams big issue. You can’t beat good teams with all these missed scoring opportunities. Turnovers are going to make the Bruins play in March, shortlived.

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi?__mode=do_register&email=jetwriting%40sopris.net&static=1&blog_id=77&token=Jc720zEFNnqOkE36GXxNXNIHSzxO0qbJL8pMgBJf&entry_id=196868 ucla-of-the rockies

    CBH uses timouts like a crack-addict.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    Biff–I agree with your points (and stated essentially the same in a separate discussion). This team is developing but still vulnerable to pressure. Nelson made some poor decisions, Honeycutt did not step up to seize the moment, Anderson should not have been pulled while on a hot shooting streak (his best ever as a Bruin), and we desperately needed a timeout (or two) to close out the game.

    That said, the Bruins showed marked improvement against Washington since our first meeting. Hopefully this will be a good learning experience for them. I agree with Stan that the team’s fortune will likely ride with how well it manages turnovers.

  • ucla-of-the rockies

    Many comments on why not employ more zone vs. man when needed have been valid, but wouldn’t have helped against the w/UWash freshman last night. So, why hasn’t CBH installed any full-court or a nasty half-court traps by now? We’ve got length, athleticism and depth. It seems like we go into battles minus the proper tools w/o the above defenses ALL at our disposal. I know we use them all for our AAU 7th grade team in Colorado. Why not at NCAA D-I ??? Something had to be done to prevent the onslaught of 24 points from the perimeter in 20 minutes by a then-average freshman that we turned into a superstar.

  • Not a fan of Howland

    First. I was surprised that Washington has not been in the top of the Pac-10 but after watching them last night I see why. They’re not that good. Maybe I caught them in an off night. Lots of missed easy shots.

    Second. Not sure how Howland can say that defense was good when Wilcox goes off like that. This guy is suppose to be a defensive guru and he can’t get his defenders to force Wilcox to go off the dribble? That’s a joke. I saw Wilcox dribble once in the second half and then he pulled up for a jumper. The guy wasn’t looking at all to penetrate. Force him to take it off the dribble. Sheesh.

    Third. This team has overachieved and Howland should get some credit but he is not a great coach. Not going to be a dead horse on the timeout but his usage of them is ludicrous. What really bothers me is that he can’t make game-time adjustments. Wilcox is lighting you up from the outside the whole 2nd half and you’d think that he could make the adjustment to force him off the dribble? And the turnovers and poor shot selection issues continue to plague Howland. That’s a perfect recipe for long scoring droughts. I don’t fault poor shooting on coaching, but poor shot quality and turnovers is on the coach. Shows you how little they practice offense.

    Fourth. Anderson kept the team in the game. Kudos to him. He has been thrashed for most of his career, so good to see him bounce back.

  • BruinPain

    I agree w/ LBF’s comments. Also, I don’t know why so many alleged Bruin fans are ready to rip a new a@@hole for any loss or poor play. Reading these comments, I often feel that if Coach Wooden were still with us and Walton had a bad night and we loss, we’d be hearing how bad a coach we had and how much of a loser our players were. The fact is CBH is an excellent coach but he admits to the obvious mistake of using all of his TOs early. The players are still young and we have a VERY short bench. We’ve made great strides as a team this year and have a good shot at making it to the sweet sixteen depending on our seeding. Next year is the year that we can make a real run. Oh, and by the way, the only one smoking crack would be an NBA GM who would draft Honeycutt in the first round even in this years weak draft. Go Bruins!

  • ucla-of-the rockies

    Fair comments BruinPain & funny crack-turn on Honey’s draft status. Problem is, Jrue Holliday after frosh season had nowhere near size, skill or potential that Honeycutt does now after SOPHOMORE campaign. I want nothing more bleeding my Bruin blue than to have him back next year w/all his perimeter & slashing promise — especially w/Reeves, Josh Smith, Stover the Wear twins and more inside. Yikes! What weapons of mass destruction. But money talks. I don’t know Tyler and haven’t heard much of him personally other than a single mom, etc. That said, 90% of those or better usually go premature. As for CBH, what a great coach, all the way back to N. Arizona days. But why, I wonder often, do we look so danged simple to rip & shred on defense & why stick w/such simple schemes — youth movement or not — when there are so many things that can be employed to stop one (ONE!) hot player? Guess I don’t want to see reality set in: we’ve got Sweet 16 (Elite 8?) talent and are one non-defensive-adjustment-half away from being first-round Big Dance fodder.

  • Not a fan of Howland

    Pain,

    Coaches are to be held accountable for the performance on the court. Period. I don’t care if your name is Wooden, Howland, or Harrick. CBH has not won anything so let’s not even dare to bring in Wooden in the same breath. Even Harrick has won one.

    CBH is not an excellent coach. You need to get that through your head. The three straight final 4s were mainly on talent. See players such as Love, Westbrook, Farmar, Afflalo, Hollins, Luc, Collison, etc. He managed to lose to Memphis with future NBA starters and All-Stars. Florida was clearly a better team, but to get blown out twice in a row was emabarassing. There were no game-time adjustments in those games either. He got outcoached by a non x-and-o coach in Calippari. CBH is not a bad coach, but he is not as excellent as everyone makes him out to be, or else UCLA would win some of these games. Wilcox lighting up is inexcusable. It’s one thing if he was a super-quick PG or a super-strong big man with post skills. This guy was just shooting open jumpers, and getting lots of open looks. Sloppy play is also a reflection on the coach.

    The problem is that the TO issue happens on an almost every game basis. If you know it’s a mistake why do you keep doing it?

    Very short bench is an excuse. Lots of TV timeouts last night, which I’m sure was his rationale for burning all the timeouts early. Problem is that you can’t call a TV timeout to stop the momentum though.

  • BruinPain

    NAFOH,

    I’m not going to try to convince you since you’re obviously true to your moniker NAFOH. However, I’d like to point out that Love was 1 and done, Westbrook 2 and done, Farmar 2 and done, Afflalo 3 and done. Hollins was a project who without the assistance of CBH would never have flourished and found his way into the NBA. Collison stayed for his senior year even though he could have left earlier. And the time we lost to Memphis in 2008, didn’t they have this PG named Derrick Rose not too mention CDR and Joey Dorsey. In 2006, we beat a No. 1 seeded Memphis team coached by the man you love to hate. Oh and look at how Coach Calipari is doing with all that talent year after year in Kentucky. I wonder when they’re going to get rid of him because that is what I call underperforming!

  • Ghost of Jrue

    Honeycutt’s odds of staying for his Junior Year are exactly zero. Doesn’t matter where he’s projected, someone will get in his head and convince him otherwise. Anybody think otherwise?

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    I agree with UCLA-of-the-Rockies’ point about our defensive schemes. In previous comments I have lamented our infrequent use full or half-court pressure (or an occasional zone for that matter). Disciplined full-court pressure would have come in handy last night in the last few minutes after we let the lead slip away. I agree our inability to force Wilcox to shoot off the dribble (or simply keep a man on him) was probably the single biggest reason for the loss. It should be kept in mind though that unfortunately Lee was apparently unavailable for large stretches of the 2nd half due to cramping.

    As for Not a fan of Howland’s comments about CBH, sure we are all entitled to our opinions but the record speaks for itself. He turned around our program and brought it back to the final four in his third year, the first of three straight. There’s a very short list of coaches who have accomplished that. Yes of course we have turned out NBA players but all successful division 1 schools are turning out NBA players. What must be remembered is that many of these future NBA players had not come close to full development of their games when they played at UCLA and this includes Love, Holiday, and Westbrook. I would say that players like Afflalo and Mbah a Moute in fact *owe* their NBA careers to playing for a coach like CBH who taught them to play tough defense, as this is now their calling card in the pro ranks. Let’s not forget the volatility inherent to the college game now due to early draft departures, as other top coaches such as Coach K and Roy Williams have also gone through relatively mediocre periods following extreme success. CBH went through his last year but there is no question this team is improving and has a bright future.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    A comment about the possibility of Honeycutt’s early departure: I agree with those who feel Honeycutt is not ready *right now* for the NBA, but what must be remembered is that the NBA draft is *not* based on current ability to produce; rather it is almost entirely based on future potential. With teams holding the rights to 1st round picks for four years, it is not essential that a rookie be productive immediately, and it is certainly worth picking a future contributor one year early with a middle to late first rounder rather than wait a year and see him unavailable with anything but a top 5-10 pick.

    Personally I would love to see Honeycutt return next year, but I’ll say what I felt about Holiday–if he gets a team’s assurance to be picked in the first round, he should go because it is in his financial interest to do so. I think most of us would do the same. An unfortunate injury or even a subpar season can ruin a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for financial security.

  • ucla-of-the rockies

    So true, LBF … and you all would freak at the amount of press Bruin quitter Drew Gordon getting here in the Rockies for his double-double the other night as NM beat Jimmer/BYU for 2nd time this season.