UCLA’s Tournament hopes disappear in loss to Arizona

For the second time in three seasons, UCLA ends its basketball season with a measure of sanity.

There will be no March Madness for these Bruins.

UCLA last-ditch hope for an NCAA Tournament appearance went out with not a bang but a whisper on Thursday afternoon in a 66-58 loss to Arizona in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament.

Buried by a 10-minute stretch to open the first half that rivaled the worst in the team’s recent history – the Bruins managed just six points in the game’s first 11 minutes, 28 seconds – they now wait to find out if they’ll even receive a bid to the National Invitation Tournament.
“No question,” Howland said about accepting an NIT bid, if one were offered. “We would not snub our nose at the opportunity to play in the NIT.”

Now Howland has to hope the selection committee turned the game on late.

If UCLA fans thought the Bruins’ win over USC in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday set offensive basketball back 50 years, the team’s first-half performance on Thursday pushed it back another 300.

And the game wasn’t even invented until 1891.

The Bruins drove to the lane in horse-drawn carriage, exchanged errant passes with bumbling dribbling and struggled to even attempt a shot. Players even tripped over their own feet and Arizona was not much better, making just 6-of-20 attempts in the first half. UCLA was able to keep it close for much of the half, eventually heading into the locker room down 29-23, only because of the Wildcats’ woes.

“We just didn’t get as good of shots and we didn’t really handle it, like coach said, didn’t handle their pressure very well,” said UCLA senior guard Jerime Anderson, who scored 14 points and added four rebounds and four assists. “There are two different styles of play from last game to this game. USC backed off of us and we still struggled.
I just think that we didn’t execute very well in the first half, and that’s what led to us not making shots and not getting a good start.”

Arizona maintained at least four-point cushion until 10:13 remained in the game as the Bruins slowly climbed back in it. A steal-and-layup by junior guard Tyler Lamb gave UCLA its first lead since 2-1 at the 8:17 mark. Arizona freshman guard Nick Johnson’s tip-in 25 seconds later gave the Wildcats the lead, and they would not trail for the rest of the game.

Johnson would not make another field goal, but he made his presence known on the defensive end, picking up four blocks, including two on one play, stifling a UCLA fast break.
“Nick Johnson made all the hustle plays he needed to make to win the game,” Lamb said. “Those plays count. He just pulled those off.”

Johnson’s play helped bolster a backcourt missing one of its most valuable contributors, freshman Josiah Turner, who was suspended indefinitely by Arizona coach Sean Miller on Wednesday for a violation of team rules.
UCLA was also without the services of one of its most crucial pieces – for all but nine minutes.

Sophomore center Joshua Smith fouled out in under 10 minutes, picking up his fifth foul with 11:02 left in the game on the defensive end after missing a free throw that would have allowed Howland to sub in backup center Anthony Stover. Smith’s absence left the Bruins shorthanded in the post and sophomore forward Travis Wear fouled out with 2:52 left as Jesse Perry’s two free throws gave Arizona an eight-point lead and more than enough cushion.

“I was worried about the game getting stretched away from us at that point,” Howland said. “That’s why I gambled on him. That’s what we’ve done before. But the second foul shot (Smith) missed, so we didn’t get a chance to sub in for him. We were subbing for him with Stover. Then they went down, and he picked up his fifth foul on that possession.”

UCLA’s hopes for a ticket to the NCAA Tournament may have been stomped out, but Bruins fans got a bit of good news as Smith said he would return for his junior season. Smith said he would address the weight issues that have plagued him since arriving in Westwood, and he said he’s ready to start working now.

“There’s no way I’ll ever leave on a note like that,” Smith said. “Whenever I leave, I want to make sure we go out with a bang and I go out like a bang.
“Nothing like this.”

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  • Anonymous

    Not to mention Arizona shot 36 free throws to UCLA’s 16. But how about if Lamb dunks the breakaway and Anderson doesn’t throw that ridiculous backwards pass out of bounds on the other breakaway? Didn’t see the last six minutes. Keep reading the refs took over the game for Arizona at that point.

  • Blue Bruin

    What time is the press conference Monday? Can’t wait ’til I see the last of Howland!

  • uscfd

    The idea that Smith would even be considering turning pro is laughable, if not pathetic. He better get it in gear or he won’t have to worry about that even after 4 years.
    Sits out the first half against SC, then commits 3 fouls in 3 minutes and back to the bench. I’m sure that impressed the scouts.

  • Bruins nation

    Chianti Dan
    Epic fail
    Dumpster fire
    Disgracing the four letters
    Howler
    Neub
    Accepting failure
    Banned

  • BruinLife

    Seriously, Blue Bruin? Howland’s not getting fired, and if he is, it’s the last nail in the coffin that is Dan Guerrero’s horrible reign as AD.

    For all the idiots that will be shouting for Howland’s head, Bruins Nationtards included, we lost four of our top 8 players this season, including Nelson and Parker who were completely unexpected. Please tell me what you expected the team to do, exactly, without those players?

  • CrouchingBruin

    I just got an e-mail from the LA Times with the subject line “Read Jonathan Gold’s debut column.” Upon reading the body of the e-mail, I realized after seeing the phrase “Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold” that our beloved blog was still safe.

  • Ben G

    Anon is right on. Lamb absolutely shouldve dunked the breakaway, Zeke threw a horrible behind the back pass to blow another fast break. We get a lot of crucial shots blocked, shoot 20 fewer free throws, took a nap the 1st 12 minutes, Zeke throws up 12 bricks, Smith fouls out in 9 minutes, Lamb waits 30 minutes to score, and we were still in it til the end. This is about the 8th time this year we have clutched defeat from the jaws of victory. Fitting end to this season.

  • Anonymous

    As a ucla fan I can honestly say we deserve this lousy program. Apathy reigns over ucla basketball and because of that we will keep this coach who hasn’t won a national championship in 9 years here. Howland is a disgrace and so r his defenders.

  • Anon

    “No question,” Howland said about accepting an NIT bid, if one were offered.

    Sure, so that we can add one more embarrassing loss to a mid-major.

  • MichaelRyerson

    Hey, congratulations Jon on your new Times gig. You’re enthusiastic about your food, nice to see you can make it pay off. Got anything in a chinese restaurant south of I-10?

  • MichaelRyerson

    And, by the way, very cool you never thought to mention that little ol’ Pulitzer thing. You sly dog.

  • doug4ucla

    This thing is over……what a joke……….

  • The Monopoly Is Over Here

    Alright gutties, NIT bound! #8CLAP!

  • Marc

    To all you losers bashing the NIT, stick it.

    North Carolina went to the NIT in 2010 and lost the final to Dayton. Think that Roy Williams is a terrible coach? If you do, it’s because your either immature or lack basketball knowledge.

    In 1985, with Reggie Miller on the team, UCLA plays in and wins the NIT. Perhaps not the biggest moment in UCLA basketball history, but do you want to tell Reggie Miller he is a loser because he didn’t win the ncaa’s?

    In 1985 UCLA won the NIT and promptly hung an NIT championship banner among the 10 existing NCAA championship banners. This lonely banner remained in the rafters until 1995, when the Bruins won the NCAA title again and replaced the NIT banner with their 11th NCAA championship banner. ~ from Wikipedia

    It isn’t the end of the freaking world and if you don’t want to watch, don’t! But if you don’t you are less of a fan! In fact, I think you are a pathetic, loser of a fan for bashing this great university because you have a small world-view and can’t see that times are different. It isn’t the days of John Wooden anymore; it is the AAU days when kids expect bright lights from the get-go. It is a time when the NBA will take them after one freaking year of college. It is a time with a vast Internet. If the Internet existed then like it does now, Wooden probably would never have coached a team to the championship, let alone ten teams. Heck, he didn’t win his first until nine years into his career. And no one is going to rattle off ten like he did back then, because of how different this world and this game is.

    I am not saying that UCLA shouldn’t be held to a high standard, but what I am saying is that I enjoy watching and cheering for the Bruins through thick and thin. The championship runs are cherished even more; I still have the SI magazines fron the ’95 championship.

    And in the end, it is just sports!!!!

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Props on the Pulitzer! Any archive material on that certain McDonald’s blaze run w/Chaz out in East Jesus? I heard that was the one that put the judges way over the top.

    And my, do folks confuse just how busy you really are. You know, getting ready to host SNL tomorrow night and all.

    Hopefully your moonlight work eases the pain from these past two seasons of major college sports for UCLA.

    So, I’ll end it here:
    * Our true un-doing last fall came on an ESPN night for all to see with the debacle in the desert. Double the pain with it all coming unraveled hoops-wise against AZ once again. At least it was indoors this time, and viewed by virtually no one in person or on media outlets.
    * I hope we don’t go NIT-ing. Yes, @anon1151, to wade through another slop-fest would just add to the misery of a season way, way lost. But it’s due to more important issues than just that.
    * Everything should be re-evaluated. Largely a non-issue, yes, but that SI article needs to be investigated from within, and from the top-down. We CANNOT get this one wrong now that it’s all laid bare for the world to see and the season is over.
    * Everyone should be back in the fucking gym, like now. And not the basketball gym, the workout gym. And that starts with Tub of Lard. And it flows through Lane, Stover and both Wears inside and Lamb, Powell and LD3 on the perimeter. Yeah, remember that name? That kid ought to be a beast of leadership everywhere right now if next season is to mean anything. And don’t count on the two frosh coming in to carry it all. There’s more than enough in our own cupboards to have the road laid properly down when they get here.
    * Let’s build for next year and thereafter, not look back at an abortion thru the NIT. This next team needs a summer-bonding excursion perhaps like no other. And that’s not just hoops in Upper Slambovia. It needs the fiber of CBH dressed-down, plodding the jungle floor and consuming large portions of monkey brains with his players for the rite of passage it will take to glue things together again. Wait, that’s a hurl moment just thinking of Big Josh and a tub of monkey-anything.
    * As for CBH, spend the extra time getting Shabazz nailed-down. And make sure it’s a clean operation, both on our end and all the way down to Cuz Run-Run, considering all of the Adidas shoe $$$ pressure floating around.
    * Yes, the timeout calls are frustrating. And the lack of delegation to assistants. And the stubborness to try much of anything new. (AZ point guard is out … why not press the shit out of them at least for a few minutes? Half-court trap?) And did anyone else see the spat between Norman & CBH when he was pulled WAY TOO QUICKLY and for what, to just get Zeek back in? Norman was playing well, and let’s be honest here. Zeek, though a very hard-nosed Chicago savior for us the past two, isn’t exactly the second-coming of MJ. Fair or not, Zeek got punked by Fogg last night and was taken out of his game. And we paid for it.
    * If CBH rises through the scrutiny, then we keep a good coach who might be hard to improve upon. But if CBH is found lacking in any major area, now would be the time to cut bait.
    * That is as fair and non-BN as I can express that.
    * Now, the honest pain of rooting on the Buffs instead of the Bruins down the stretch. Did any of you stay up and watch that? Oregon had more talent everywhere. Probably better coaching too. And can you just imagine the imbalance in Nike cash vs. Boulder’s tree-huggers? But guess what happens when a team sells everything out, even on a second straight night of ballin’ … That’s the true pity of last night, that it was clearly for the taking. And that, with only OSU between us and the Pac-12 semis and finals.
    * Arizona didn’t really play like it wanted it last night either. They just faked it a little better than we did.
    * Flush.

  • Anonymous

    The excuses just pile up for Bruin fans, especially the Howland blind supporters. Officiating, injuries, lack of home court, travelling, player dismissions, etc. Anything but the coach’s fault. Howland’s lifetime pass for three straight final 4s is indeed still applicable.

  • Semi-Pro

    Right, Anon…because none of those “excuses” you listed could really have an impact on a team’s season…

    Go back to Bruins Nation, troll.

  • localbruin

    Hey, you won’t see me frowning and being down in the dumps after 14 years of football flaming and this recent basketball burnout. Nosireee! I’m still basking in the golden afterglow of that womens volleyball title. Mmmmmmmm. C’mon folks. Jump in here, there’s plenty for everyone. Ucla is an athletic powerhouse! Life is su-weet.

  • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

    Remember when UCLA lost 50-0 to USC? That was funny. Remember after that game that the little bRuins said that they were a basketball school? That was funny as well.

  • The Blur

    I can’t help but wonder if Josh Smith would’ve had equal results at another school. Same with the entire ’08 class. I know sometimes players just don’t work out but this is unreasonable to me. That ’08 class was the unanimous #1 in the country. How could we go 0-5 on those guys being impact players?

    Those Final Four teams had less recruited talent than these latest disasters. Same with Howland’s good Pitt teams. I have to wonder if Howland’s coaching style suits elite recruits. I don’t see Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UNC, etc., trying to grind out wins every night with their superior talent. Those coaches let their players play, and they seem to enjoy it. Our players seem to sulk on the bench, transfer, or leave too early for the NBA.

    I’ve liked Howland and I respect him. That SI article was total fluff. Bruinsnation is complete drivel and their criticisms lack credibility. But at this point I think it’s fair to question the way he’s handled his talent. Some blame him for recruiting the wrong kind of players – I respect that sentiment but I disagree with it. Anyone in the country would have taken Josh Smith. Jrue Holiday, I believe, had offers from Duke or UNC. How would he have done there? Kansas sorely wanted Bobo. It’s not like Howland was the only one who wanted these guys.

    IMO, Howland’s grace period from those final four teams is now over. He’s got talent coming in. I think he should start next year on the hot seat.

  • Reasonable Bruin

    It’s no surprise that the blind Howland apologists gravitate to this site to support this clueless coach.

    It’s the same place the Dorrellites and Neuheisel cheerleaders came to defend their horrible head coaching records.

    As someone who was in college during the high flying O’Bannon years, this brand of ‘below the rim’ basketball is too painful to watch. The next time a Wear twin leaves his feet to grab a rebound will be the first time. And look for the recruiting well to all but dry up once AAU mercenary Korey McCray heads to greener pastures.

    Marc, Semi-Pro, Ryerson, et al: How will you replicate the excitement of Ben Ball now that the season’s over? I was thinking about doing some painting this weekend, you fellas want to come by and watch it dry?

  • Amillennialist

    Ben, Marc, Rockies, Blur — all good comments.

  • Amillennialist

    Isn’t sub-mediocrity great?

  • Dean

    You need to brush up on your TS Eliot, John.

  • 50-0

    Oh Well. On to Spring football. Maybe that’ll turn out better…. Not

  • Amillennialist

    Isn’t that precious? One of Nestor’s lap dogs posting under my name.

    (We know it’s not Nestor because — all banality aside — the syntax is recognizably English.)

  • MPP Bruin

    Interesting that all of these Trolljans commenting here seem to have conveniently forgotten that their team went 6-24 this season and that we beat them three times. Yes, these Bruins defeated miserable, pathetic worthless boys of Troy with a hat trick.

  • Anonymous

    When does spring football start? Or has it already begun? We need something to look forward to.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    MPP: 6-26.

  • 50-0

    Instead of Rock-Head, how about NIT-wit?

  • Anonymous

    BruinLife is an excuse-monkey. Pathetic. If you are a Bruin alum or student, and I doubt you are, then I am ashamed.

  • Anonymous

    Adam Plutko is an effing stud.
    Just sayin’

  • Anonymous

    Ben, Marc, Rockies, Amenilladoofus…same goes for all y’all. If any of you are truly Bruins, then that is disgusting.

  • BSKB

    It’s cute watching Butthurt Nation folks over here talking smack. Go back to pretending to be “true Bruins” over on your site.

    Last I checked your Fanshots were saying that a) Reggie Miller is a great Bruin, b) We are above the NIT and c) We don’t hang NIT banners. Funny how Miller led the Bruins to a NIT banner and we hung it in Pauley for years.

    I root for UCLA. This was a hard year and you have every right to be unhappy about the results. But the people who claim to be fans who have championed our demise this year need to STFU.

  • Are You Really Going There?

    Hey USC Trolljans, why don’t you focus on just staying legal for a season or two in football while we hang the Pac-12 South Division banner. And in basketball, maybe win a few games and then pop-off. Yeah, and good luck in the “minor” sports category (kinda got you beat there, too). Retards.

  • Amillennialist

    So, the anonymous coward has risen again to the defense of his man. How romantic!

    Too bad about his inability to handle polysyllabic words, though. (Nestor, is that you?)

    You see, neither The Little Dictator nor his sycophants at RuinsNation can ban anyone here, so they have to resort to . . . name-calling. How very South-Central of them! (I would have said “childish,” but that wouldn’t be fair to children of any age.)

    I’ve got an idea: How ’bout you Athenian boy-lovers at BruinsDegradation man-up and stop acting like Trojans? Put on your big-boy pants, sign-up, and post under your own names.

    You can do it. I know you can.

  • MichaelRyerson

    Someone up thread made this observation and it bears repeating (so I will), Reeves and Powell gone or out, and Smith shows he may be closer to Benoit Benjamin than Bill Walton, closer to hosting a cooking show than cookin’ in the paint. If you’d have said before the season these three things would come to pass and you’d still win close to twenty games, most sentient beings would have been good with it. Still a Howland man here. I stand with Westbrook, Collison, Love, Afflalo, Farmar, Luc, Lorenzo and the rest. As for the ‘SC trolls, if they didn’t come here where would they go? nothing happening on their basketball blog and for the kids who transferred, where do you think the Wears came from or Larry Drew? It happens. Get over it.

  • MichaelRyerson

    And while I’m on a roll, for you ‘history’ fans who insist on one fractured comparison after another, let me say this: Coach Wooden coached UCLA for fifteen years before he won his first NCAA Championship. Fifteen years. What in the world could he have been doing all that time?? Honing his craft, pouring himself into his work and his marriage and his family, making everyday his masterpiece. I have no complaints whatsoever about the effort Coach Howland puts into our program. Some of you should read a little John Wooden, you’ll find virtually nothing about wins and losses. That said, there will never be another John Wooden.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    MRyer: Thanks for the cool Wooden props.
    And while you were ar it, it reminded me of that @marc post above that really stuck in my craw. That thinking really needs to be re-thunk.

    I’ve long heard the defense (and largely from other covetous powers like Duke, Kentucky, etc.) that: “Well, this is another era. No one can win 10 NCAA titles in this day and age …”

    Maybe so.

    But Marc, please don’t confuse Wooden with NOT BEING ABLE TO WIN EVEN ONE title in this “internet” era, as you call it?

    What, do you think he couldn’t type?
    Not witty enough to keep up will all the new tech?
    Confusing FuckTheWorld with ForTheWin?

    Come on.

    Put http://www.wooden@thewizard.com in his prime out there today and I’d throw it all out on the table behind him over any other coach out there.

  • 50-0

    Perhaps Josh Smith can play on the offensive line?

  • Nestor is not a Bruin

    Typical Bandwagon Nation logic: call for an all-out boycott of UCLA Athletics, then a week later whine about the lack of donors.

    They’re so powerful, it must have worked! They should be celebrating…haha

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Hey 6-26: Maybe Matt Barkley could play point guard?

  • Nestor’s Mother

    @Amillennialist

    I think you have the city-state wrong in your post above. ATHENS isn’t one of the banners Nessie and his little buddies have posted in the basement, I only see SPARTA and NAMBLA.

    I can’t seem to find that latter one as being part of the geo-political entities of ancient Greece.

  • Marc

    @Rockies

    What I’m saying about Wooden is that if things were like they are now back then coach Wooden would not have been given the chance to succeed.

    He didn’t win his first championship at UCLA until the ’63-’64 season. He began coaching UCLA for the ’48-’49 season. That there is a long time without championships. The Internet, especially with A*#holes like the idiots at bruins(fake)nation, would have contributed to an atmosphere where he would have been forced out. At the least, he wouldn’t have been able to operate the way he did; he would have been tarred and feathered by the TJ Slimers of the world.

    It is a way different world in so many ways. I agree with the poster above who said that Ben Howland should start next season on the hot seat. But he should also be given the opportunity to operate without a*%holes criticizing his every move and the team’s every loss next year.

    Watch what happens as soon the baseball team cools off. Some “experts” on bruins(fake)nation will be criticizing their every move and every loss.

    I wish anonymous would take them down. That would be so fresking great.

    And I’m not talking about the idiot “anonymous” fools who pop up on here time to time to poop.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Marc: That’s a fair take.

  • Rob M

    I think all the Bruin Nation talk has become more annoying than the SUC troll posts.

    This is not the Bruin Nation complaint department.

    I have never read the site. Please follow my lead. STOP READING THAT SITE. And STOP WRITING about it here.

  • Amillennialist

    You don’t understand, Rob. They’re poisoning the waters here, too.

  • Larry

    I agree with Rob. This is not the Bruin Nation complaint center. Stop writing about them them here. It’s ruining the posts on this sites as half of them are just degrading comments.

  • Columbia Pictures

    @Larry

    Do Moe, Curley, Shep and Curley Joe Besser agree with you?

  • Captain Obvious

    Oh, the irony of people complaining in the comment section about reading too many complaints in the comment section.

    This doesn’t need to be the anti-BN blog, but perhaps people, including Jon, appreciate the fact that the readers here have high standards, can think for themselves, and appreciate Jon’s real reporting.

    It could also be that the Daily News silently appreciates its readers fighting back against those morons who continually trash them and every other publication.

  • Anonymous

    The only one that cares about those moron’s are morons.

  • Amillennialist

    “Larry” and “Anonymous” hoisted by their own petards:

    “Stop writing about them them [sic] here.”

    “It’s ruining the posts on this sites [sic] . . . .”

    “The only one that cares about those moron’s [sic] are morons.”

    (Nestor, is that you?)

  • Larry

    Nope… no Nestor here. Wrote the message above on an iPad. Didn’t take the time to proofread the message. Sorry. Now how many times did you reread your post to make sure you made no mistakes when pointing out others… common, tell the truth! ;o)

  • Amillennialist

    “common”? :)

    Since my post consisted almost entirely of your errors, I didn’t have to proofread much.

    The truth is, grammar, syntax, and punctuation don’t really matter. I point out those errors only because they’re some of Nestor’s tells.

    What is at issue here is that Murshed and his groupies at BN claim to represent the rest of us, which wouldn’t be so bad if they had something worth saying and could do so without the absurd condescension, character assassination, and cult-like intolerance of opposing viewpoints. But they don’t, and they can’t.

    So, “Larry,” how’s Tydides?