And 1: UCLA 77, Stanford 73

Men's Basketball Writer Kevin "Kevo" Danna provides the Bootleg faithful a look at the game flow, stats, facts, and his keen observations after Stanford did everything but win the game down at Pauley Pavilion, losing 77-73 on Thursday night to the UCLA Bruins.

It is official - Stanford can't buy a break on the road.  The Farm Boys looked like the better team for about 37 of the 40 minutes tonight in Pauley Pavilion, yet they still wind up four-point losers against the UCLA Bruins.  This one was about as tough and heart-wrenching as they come for the Cardinal, who now fall to 10-12 and 4-6 in Pac-10 action.  So how did this decision come about Thursday night?

Some of the usual things that haunt the Cardinal showed up against the Bruins, but for the most part, they weren't deal-breakers.  As it was on the Arizona trip, Stanford failed to get a third scorer in double figures on Thursday night, as the traditional two of Landry Fields and Jeremy Green were the only ones to reach the ten-point plateau.  However, the Card still solid scoring contributions from Drew Shiller, who found that touch again from beyond the arc with nine points on three made three-pointers, and seven tallies from Jarrett Mann, who made two long balls (including a huge three down the stretch to keep the Card alive).  20 of the 73 points scored by Stanford tonight came from outside of Landry and Jeremy and the bench was held scoreless.  That certainly isn't a pretty figure by any stretch of the imagination, but it beats the 12 of 68 mark that was the case last Thursday in Tucson.  Plus, when Landry Fields couldn't be stopped all night long, the complimentary scoring wasn't as necessary as it usually is.

Free-throw shooting percentage was a complete non-issue tonight for the Cardinal.  Stanford went 10-13 from the charity stripe, including 4-4 down the stretch from Jeremy and Landry to cut into small deficits.  It was the volume of free-throws being attempted that was an issue.  UCLA doubled-up Stanford with 26 freebie attempts and made 18 of them.  Stanford committed five more fouls than UCLA (17-12), but in watching the game, the Cardinal really didn't get jobbed in that department.  There were certainly a couple of questionable calls here and there, but nothing came close to the level of Lawrence Hill-Darren Collison-Kevin Brill status on this Thursday night.  For the most part, the officials did a decent job.

By the numbers, Stanford didn't do a terrible job rebounding.  Sure, they were outrebounded 35-33 and UCLA had 14 offensive rebounds (in large thanks due to the work of Reeves Nelson and Nikola Dragovic, each with five offensive caroms corralled), but Stanford had 13 offensive boards of their own, so the rebounding was a wash.  Stanford really outworked UCLA for a lot of missed shots on the offensive end, getting four chances to score on one possession in the first half before Jeremy Green hit yet another in-your-face jumper to put Stanford up 20-16.

In the end, it was more about what UCLA did than what Stanford didn't do.  Two things have plagued UCLA offensively all season long - poor free throwing and a propensity to give the ball away.  Averaging 62% from the line coming into tonight's contest, UCLA hit over 69% of their attempts tonight, including their last four to seal up the victory.  Also, the Bruins handled the ball beautifully all game long, only committing five turnovers, well below their season average of 14.7.  Tyler Honeycutt proved why he was such a highly-touted recruit tonight not by his scoring (which wasn't shabby - 12 points, and he had a beautiful reverse lay-up that he got fouled on as well), but by his ability to find the open man and play stellar defense in help and on-ball.  He had three blocks and two steals to supplement the 12 points, 11 boards and eight dimes.  Once this kid puts some weight on, which will certainly happen considering he is just a freshman, this kid will be something serious and a potential Pac-10 Player of the Year candidate either next season or the year after.

The backbreaker came on the UCLA loose-ball recovery on a missed Reeves Nelson free throw with 38 seconds to play and the Bruins up 71-70.  You can yell all you want about needing to rebound missed free throws, but after watching the play a couple of times on TV and a hundred more inside my head, Stanford did everything besides come up with the basketball.  Trotter boxed out well enough to get in a good position to rebound the basketball, but he collided with Jeremy who was coming in to help out.  But that was fine, because Shiller was in great position to clean up the mess; he just wasn't able to hold on to the ball.  For as someone as sure-handed as Drew is, that was nothing but dumb luck for UCLA.  This team is snakebit on the road, but especially so in Southern California (they haven't won a non-postseason game in Southern California since the 2004-2005 season), and this was just another example.  This team is busting their tails off to get the desired results, but they are still just nanometers away from cashing in away from Maples.

But let's end this piece on a positive note and get some good vibes heading into the Galen game on Saturday.  Landry Fields put on the performance of his life on Thursday night with his 35-point, ten-rebound effort against the Bruins.  He literally couldn't do any wrong: 13-18 from the field, 3-4 outside the international line, 6-7 at the line.  He scored from anywhere and everywhere on the court.  He had great basket finishes, wonderful baby hooks, a solid mid-range game, and of course the long shots were on point as well.  It didn't matter who UCLA threw at him - Honeycutt, Roll, Dragovic, Keefe, whoever - Landry was making people look silly.  CSN gave the "Player of the Game" award to Honeycutt, but everyone in attendance and watching on TV knew who the real man of the match was.  His behind-the-back alley-oop slam dunk was probably one of the best plays Stanford has run this year.  A lot of credit has to go to Shiller for making that pass and putting it right on the spot for Landry to CASUALLY catch it with his back to the basket in the air and calmly throw it down over his right shoulder for the deuce.  That play had the Bruins fooled out of their minds.

Will the Cardinal finally be able to turn the corner in a Pac-10 venue against the Trojans on Saturday afternoon?  Clear your late afternoon, make late dinner reservations and tune in for a 4:30pm tip-off at the Galen Center, and then log on to TheBootleg.com after a nice night out with that special someone for another work of art from the one they call Boom Boom!

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