Cal 76, UCLA 63

UCLA basketball is clearly set on one task: to make choosing its worst game as hard as possible.

The Bruins’ 76-63 loss at Cal probably doesn’t beat out their early-season faceplant to Cal Poly, but it belongs in the conversation. UCLA was unsightly through the first half, going without a free throw and — until the final minutes of the period — nearly being outscored by the Bears’ star swingman Allen Crabbe. Before the break, the Bruins shot a hair above 30 percent and trailed by as much as 28.

Ben Howland and his players constantly acknowledge that they need to hit the boards harder, hold their blockouts longer. Rarely is an explanation given other than lack of effort or focus. Yet, UCLA was abused on the glass by forwards Richard Solomon and David Kravish — both wiry specimens who aren’t listed above 235 pounds. The pair combined for 21 rebounds and 35 points, with Kravish scoring a career-high 18.

Cal finished with a 41-33 edge on the boards, the sixth time in seven games that UCLA has trailed by at least eight rebounds. The Bears, who entered the game relying on Crabbe and point guard Justin Cobbs for over 50 percent of their scoring output, dominated the Bruins with 46-20 points in the paint.

Shabazz Muhammad actually snuck in his third double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 4 of 13. UCLA never led after the first three minutes of the game, and never got within single digits after the first nine ten.

The Pac-12 is hard to peg right now, so the Bruins could very well bounce back to split the Bay Area trip. That said, Stanford (1 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2) is a similarly hot team that won four of five heading into tonight’s tilt against USC. The Cardinal looked awful the last time they saw the Bruins, but forwards Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis are averaging 16.6 and 13.2 points in their past five games. They have 101 combined rebounds in that same span.

On the bright side for UCLA fans … oh, I don’t know. Baseball starts tomorrow?

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  • Mark

    The Howland deathwatch is in full effect. A few more lemons like this and we’ll be rid of him.

  • Mark

    Isn’t it funny how a few years ago there were rumors Depaul was going to poach Howland away? If only it had come true!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Barry-Levy/1091577549 Barry Levy

      and it was reported that if he was to have gone, he wasn’t taking staff with, strange situation.

  • Mark

    By the way, I’ve been as loyal as anyone. That includes staying up extremely late to watch games while living in Washibgton, DC, and traipsing to far off sports bars to find game broadcasts. But I’m not watching another game until a new coach is installed.

    • drakejr

      ratings? If the Pac12 cared about that the Directv deal would have been done ages ago. You might as well threaten to wear blue women’s panties on your head every day. Won’t make a difference to them either way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tes.ta.52 Tes Ta

    so angry, but tired of it all

  • http://www.facebook.com/sakatalaw Cliff Sakata

    Howland blows.

  • drakejr

    Good news everybody. The Bruins can’t beat dog talent, but somehow beat better ranked teams. Given their inevitable low seeding in the tournament, they will be a final 4 team.

  • Marc

    One thing I always find interesting about telecasts from CAL’s gym is the cameras are way up high and makes for interesting camera angles. It gives the game a look like the players are going downhill when on fast breaks, for instance.

    It’s a shame UCLA can’t seem to win at CAL or with any regularity this season…

    Ben is as good as gone at this point, one would have to believe. Oh, where does UCLA turn next for a head coach?