UCLA out-everythinged in loss to St. John’s


UCLA was out-savvied by a team starting five true freshmen.

UCLA was out-hustled by a team down to just six players in its rotation.
And UCLA ultimately was outplayed by a team that had lost its previous four games by a combined 87 points.

St. John’s sent UCLA back across the country with a 66-63 loss at Madison Square Garden in front of 7,305 and many more watching CBS’s marquee Saturday afternoon game.

The Bruins’ lights flickered out quickly, though, as the Red Storm clearly displayed more energy and emotion.

“They played very inspired,” UCLA senior guard Jerime Anderson said. “They played like they’ve had a tough time the last few games and they really wanted to come out and get the win. They got to most of the loose balls, offensive rebounds – that really hurt us.”

The Bruins hurt themselves more:

By turning the ball over with ruthless efficiency, finishing with 16, including eight by sophomore guard Tyler Lamb alone.

By failing to box out, particularly when it mattered most, as Red Storm freshman guard Phil Greene tipped in a D’Angelo Harrison 3-point miss right over Anderson with six seconds left to give St. John’s a four-point lead.

And, most egregious, by playing with the gusto of a napping sloth as St. John’s played as if the ball was made of 24-karat gold.

“They had the sense of urgency to go and get the rebound and they made it happen,” Lamb said. “They made that win happen.”

In many ways, UCLA made its loss happen.

St. John’s atoned for 37 percent shooting with 19 offensive rebounds – which led to 26 second-chance points – including six offensive rebounds by forward Moe Harkless, who finished with 12 total. The Red Storm set the tempo tone early, grabbing back-to-back offensive rebounds on their second possession, including the latter by Harkless, who then laid the ball in for the game’s first points.

And just when UCLA’s energy seemed to be up, St. John’s sapped it right back, with the ball seeming to bounce directly the Red Storm’s way.

Case in point: With 8:02 left in the game, St. John’s freshman Sir’Dominic Pointer missed a jumper, fell to the floor as the ball bounced directly into his hands. The ball eventually went to Harkless, who missed a shot as Pointer exploded toward the rim, grabbed the rebound and slammed it in to put the Red Storm up 56-53.
UCLA would get no closer than two the rest of the way.

“The offensive rebounding, allowing 19 offensive boards in a game that is not an up-and-down game today – they were using the clock and being patient as short-handed as they are – is way too many,” UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. “That’s really the biggest stat that jumps out. It was hurting us at halftime. I felt we did a good job coming out at the start of the second half and came out and scored quickly the first four minutes and got some momentum, but give them credit.

“They got the loose balls, they got the second shots.”

For a team that likely needs to win the Pac-12 Tournament in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament, the Bruins blew their last shot at what might be considered a showcase win. UCLA has just for regular-season games left, with a trip to the Arizona schools next weekend before closing with Washington and Washington State before the conference tournament.

“It’s a disappointing loss because I felt like we prepared well for this game,” Lamb said. “We knew what we were going up against. I don’t take anything away from them, freshmen or not, they came out here and played hard. They outrebounded us, they converted on our turnovers and it helped them win.”

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  • Angry Bruin

    It looked even worse in person. Unlike Gold, I had to pay for my cross-country flight, hotel, and meals. At least Ucla could have played hard for us fans who showed up. After this latest fiasco, there has to be some serious questions about Howland’s future.

  • Anonymous

    Why did Howland stay with a 7-man rotation? What happened to Stover?

  • Bob

    This is worse than football. All season I felt Tressy’s defensive scheme sucked, Howland’s is so much worse. He has the the guys to get it done but refuses. ZONE ZONE ZONE. Your guys can’t play man defense. This is just plain embarrassing. Howland’s just awful with 8 minutes left, I mean the worst. He got beat by Steve Lavin team with bad record for goodness sake. Whatever you do don’t blame these players, they are not being put in a position to win games.

  • Anonymous

    Bob … we held them to 37% shooting so defense doesn’t seem to be the problem. It’s not blocking out (which is harder in a zone by the way) and turnovers. Understand the frustration but the guys on the floor need to man up and get it done.

  • Amillennialist

    Only got to see the last few minutes of the game.

    Saw Bruins taking threes, and the opponent shooting lay-ups and taking rebounds away from UCLA.


  • post move

    Is Stover injured? The Bruins only show signs of life defensively when he plays. They’re best win was against Arizona, when Smith was out, and Stover and Lane got additional minutes.

  • Anonymous

    Stupid turnovers and offensive rebounding…Bruins executed some decent offense when they were patient.

  • The Blur

    I just don’t understand how Josh Smith opens with two dunks, then we stop going to him. Of course, that would require our guards to pass the ball to someone in the same color jersey. I know Smith has issues, but he’s gotta get some help. He was 6-7 today. Give him the ball. He shouldn’t have the second-fewest shots in the box score.

    I also share Bob’s frustration with late-game management.

  • BruinPain

    @Bob & Blur,

    I’m not sure what game you were watching but the problem today was not the defense or for that matter the lack of touches by Joshua Smith. The problem was our poor ball handling and our horrific defensive rebounding which allowed St. John’s multiple second and third chances throughout the game.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Jon: Thanks for the nice “gamer” reporting. Your use of color, quotes and crisp stats gave those of us in the hinterlands blacked out by CBS in favor of Gordon vs. Moser a feeling that we’d seen it somehow.

    Fair and square, it didn’t sound like must-see TV.

  • Bob

    If you can’t play man defense and you keep losing to below average teams trying to play man defense, and below average teams seem to constantly beat you off the dribble, penetrate, and dish for dunks or get the offensive rebound and slam it home, which by the way happened all game, it’s easy to shoot 37% and win. UCLA shot 43% and guess what we lost again.

    Try watching a Syracuse game and tell me the zone is an unacceptable way to play defense. Teams have no problems using it on us.

    UCLA fans need to mentally adjust and accept the fact UCLA basketball has and will be irrelevant. Sorry, NIT’s aren’t acceptable.

    Anon, you might be OK blaming the players, I’m not, this is happening way to often for me.

  • A pathetic performance to say the least. Why is it Ben Howland continues to play the same line-up that has proven to be mediocre all year? Anderson, has no business being on the court, Norman Powell should be the 5th starter, even Lamb is pathetic – although scoring a good number of points, he also had a similar number of turnovers. And the twins? aren’t they supposed to rebound the damn ball? the twins forgot to box out and a guard goes up for a tip in? WTF? Of all the starters, Zeke Jones is the only one that is worthy to be called a true starter. Josh Smith? what the hell has happened to him? as a freshman, some even thought he would bolt to the NBA, and now? his inconsistency is hurting the team.

    Ben’s gotta go, period.

  • Mike

    @Bob: yes Syracuse plays effective zone defense. But don’t point to them as an example of what UCLA should be doing now, for two reasons: (1) they only ever work on zone and their entire coaching staff is light years ahead of UCLA’s coaches on how to teach that defense, and (2) one of the things that makes UCLA basketball fans proud in good times and bad for the team is how well our players perform at the next level. Syracuse is notorious for producing poor NBA players. (And please don’t bother talking about the ONE good Syracuse player in the league now…who’s team is much better with him in a suit on the bench.)

  • Bob

    Mike there’s probably a million reasons you can come up with on why the man defense is the only defense UCLA should play. But saying UCLA produces more players at the next level isn’t one of them. Tell me it’s because we are winning games we are suppose to, we are going to win the PAC12 Championship, we will be playing in March Madness with a shot to win the National Championship.

    I’m not advocating using the zone all game or even every game, I’m saying when your team is getting burned by a more athletic team, (St Johns?) at least try it.

  • post move

    At least Howland won’t have to worry about anyone jumping to the NBA. In all seriousness, there’s no reason for UCLA to be anything less than a national basketball power. There should always be one or two future NBA players on the team, with an occasional lottery pick, and a roster with 4-5 role players who can do some nice work on the court.

    Tournament appearance should be just about automatic, and sweet 16 rounds the norm for this program. Howland’s been able to do this about half the time. He needs to improve that percentage. Maybe a renovated Pauley will help recruiting, attendance and excitement for the program.

  • Anonymous

    No one apparently has told them that this is not their father’s UCLA, and the Bruins have won only one national championship in the last 37 years.” Dick Weiss, New York Daily News

    Truer words were never spoken. UCLA fans are nothing short of delusional, as if they are entitled because of the almighty (joke) “four letters.” They’re also in the gutter. Do you remember the USC game at Pauley last year when they started a profane chant in the house that Wooden built. They’re getting EXACTLY what they deserve, the pompous, arrogant pukes. It’s been over for a very long time. The sooner you get this into your swollen-beyond belief, albeit, little heads, the sooner you can start to repair the sick basketball culture surrounding your fans and your program.

  • BN sucks

    I should be more pissed off about anon’s comments above, but the reality is that type of arrogant, entitled behavior is exactly what’s spewed on Bruinsnation 24/7. They make all Bruin fans look like a-holes. I hate those F@!#ers.

    And for the record, anon can still bite me.

  • Trojan Conquest

    Too funny. On a Arizona radio program yesterday, Arizona Diamondback Trevor Bauer said his favorite college basketball team is Duke. Second favorite is Kansas. Way to represent your own school Trevor.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    @TrojanCondom: Funnier yet: How NO ONE at any school, anywhere, including even on campus at SUC, represents your own basketball prowess, even though you are just days away from setting that hallowed new all-time record for futility.

    That is, except for those SUC fans who are now pooling together with bags over their heads for your remaining home games.

    6-26 fits you and your drunk coach so well!

    And refreshing, isn’t it, that at UCLA our students actually have choices. Strange thought for you SUCkers, I know, but we don’t force Bruin pride in every sport like you mainline your crack “conquests.” No, we simply hang more NCAA banners than anyone in the country and simply let each individual decide. It sort of speaks for itself, fuck-head.

    Cheat On!

  • Trojan Conquest

    Rockies……I’d be shocked if a player from any other sport at USC would say that their favorite football team was say Alabama, and their second was Oklahoma. Even in a down year. It’s unbelievably weak.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    I see your point, Conquest, but don’t agree with it. I’m sure the campus-wide soiling of sanctions and millions spent on football comes to the bane of many in the so-called “minor sports.”

    I mean, what the hell with this JV hoops team of yours? You even put up with a coach who is obviously drunk at games? THAT IS UNBELIEVABLE. Do you realize what a fucking embarassment 6-26 is for a major college “program” in ANY sport?

    Also, don’t forget that we are not a basketball-only school. We got like a million banners hanging. We sell them like Sham-wows when we run out of space.

    You should quit your crack-whore habit and come over to the good side and see what life is really all about.

  • Sigh

    Sigh. Another national TV bad loss. Fortunately the last of the year and as UCLA gets less and less reputable TV coverage and more junk stations (i.e. FOX, ROOT, Versus, PrimeTicket, and all those other crap channels – it’s hard to even find a stream on the Internet anymore these days) maybe one of the last for years to come. Double sigh.