UCLA quick thoughts

Normally there is no shame in losing to the No. 2 team in the nation on their home floor, but Arizona is reeling thanks to three loses in a row. Here are some quick thoughts from Saturday's loss to the Bruins.

*Call me crazy, but I felt the Wildcats played far better against UCLA than they did against USC. The problem is that they did not play well enough to beat a top-3 team. You can't shoot 39% and beat UCLA.

Arizona passed better, moved without the ball better and player much harder. I actually think they defended better, UCLA did have to work to score, but in the end the Cats are a very average defensive team at best. Arron Afflalo made a number of tough shots, as did Mike Roll.

*Afflalo was clearly the best player on the floor. He and Aaron Brooks are your first half MVP's and your leading candidates for Pac-10 Player of the Year.

*Have you noticed there are two constants with Ben Howland. Anytime and every time the Cats went on a small run of more than six, he called timeout. He is also one of the few coaches who'd rather use timeouts to set up defense rather than offense.

*Darren Collison won the battle of the point guards, but it was closer than you'd think. He outscored Shakur by two, and had one less assist. He did make a few more big plays and, of course, got the win. In a "bad" game Shakur still had eight assists and would have had more if his team could knock down shots.

*Both Chase Budinger and Jawann McClellan are in a major slump. Neither player connected on a three. In fact, McClellan has missed his last 15 three pointers. I am not sure if it is a case of fatigue (physical or mental) or the league has figured them out, but neither guy is scoring. You also have to wonder just how bad are McClellan's knees? He does not look like the same player that we saw a few weeks ago.

*Although losing four out of five is not good at all, all four teams will probably be ranked next week and all four are clearly Tournament teams. The problem is that Arizona should be better than USC and Washington State at the very least.

*The officials did the Cats no favors. They actually called it fairly consistently, as consistent as Pac-10 officials can. In fact the Wildcats went to the line more than the Bruins. The problem was that they let the players get physical, which plays into the hands of the Bruins. UCLA likes to do be a little more physical than the Cats and they seemed more comfortable. Arizona adjusted fairly well, but just aren't built to play as physical as the Bruins can.

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