The fourth ranked Bruins outscored Cal in the paint by a 54-24 margin, and shot 61% from the floor for the game. Josh Shipp led the Bruins with 22 points, and Lorenzo Mata added a career high 14, featuring a shocking (for him) 8 for 9 from the foul line.
Just as they did in Berkeley last month, the Bears came out flying. This time, Cal stormed out to a 14-4 lead in the first five minutes, with Ryan Anderson nailing two left wing three-pointers. Anderson's dunk made it 18-9, and Cal still led by seven at the TV timeout with 11:31 left in the first half.
After Patrick Christopher made one of two at the line for a 21-13 Cal lead, UCLA started to take the ball to the basket, and Cal was defenseless. For the remainder of the opening stanza, the Bruins scored 22 points, and every point except for Aaron Afflalo's corner trey came on dunks, lay-ups, or free throws.
As Coach Ben Braun admitted, "We've got to do a better job of staying with it defensively."
Cal still led by 6, at 30-24 with 4 minutes left in the half, but the game was clearly shifting. UCLA was picking it up on the defensive end and getting to the rim. Two free throws by Mata, a Shipp lay-up off a steal, and a lay-up by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute tied the game, and the Bears called time with 2:33 left.
Mbah a Moute's dunk gave UCLA their first lead with around 90 seconds left, and although Cal got buckets from Christopher and Omar Wilkes, the Bruins led 35-34 at halftime.
|AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Omar Wilkes over Arron Afflalo
Although the news on the scoreboard was decent, there was lots of reason for concern. Cal had hit 67% of their shots and still trailed. That's because the Bruins made 56% of their attempts. Afflalo had only 5 points at the half, but many more were to come.
After trading baskets at the start of the half, the Bruins started to pull away. Shockingly, Mata made 4 more free throws, and his three-point play over Anderson gave the Bruins a 47-38 lead. The game was slipping away from Cal. The Bears got back within 6 on Theo Robertson's driving lay-up, but UCLA went on a 12-2 run for a 61-45 lead at the 12 minute media break and it was a done deal.
Anderson drove for a bucket and a foul, but the Bruins scored the next 13 points for their biggest lead, 74-48. That 13-0 run featured 3 lay-ups, a dunk, two free throws, and another Afflalo three.
The Bears acquitted themselves well in garbage time, and cut the final margin to 10 based on threes by Jerome Randle, Christopher, Ubaka, and Anderson. Taylor Harrison even hit a jump shot from the elbow. Possibly the last 6 minutes of the game will give the team some confidence heading into Saturday's game against USC.
For the game, Cal shot 61%, and made 8-13 from outside the arc. They also hit 15-17 from the foul line. But it was all undone by their defensive deficiencies.
UCLA had 20 points off 13 Cal turnovers, and got to the basket at will. Said Braun, "They beat us in transition. They're a very opportunistic team." Asked to explain the fact that Cal had done a decent job on Afflalo and Darren Collison but got burned inside, Braun had the matter of fact answer: "We guarded them (Afflalo and Collison) and not the inside guys."
|AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
The result was a lay-up and dunk fest for the home team. Cal not only got burned in transition, but they did a poor job containing dribble penetration. UCLA took advantage of Cal's lack of size by attacking the basket. There were far too many easy UCLA baskets.
The best news was the return of Anderson's shooting touch from the perimeter. The freshman star made 4 of 6 three-point attempts on his way to a Cal high 21 points.
The other good news is that barring a third encounter in the Pac-10 Tournament, Ubaka won't have to face Afflalo again. Although Ubaka finished with 10 points, seven of them came after the game had been decided. As he had in Berkeley, Afflalo effectively shut down Cal's senior leader.
The bottom line is that this team cannot win when they allow an opponent to
shoot 61%. If Cal has any hope of upsetting USC, they'll have to
put out a much better effort on the defensive end. It seems likely that Braun
got their attention, and they know what they need to do. Of course, it
would be a lot easier if the guys on the bench in the street clothes could play - but
to paraphrase the popular saying, they are what they are.
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