Bruins Beat Huskies on Road

UCLA overcomes a horrid first half against the Washington Huskies and gets its first win in Seattle in five years...

I was totally screwed this night as I was forced to tape one of the best "Buffy" re-run episodes ever in favor of watching another ho-hum loss by UCLA to UDub in Seattle…

Well, okay, UCLA actually won the game, 85-79, but that doesn't change the essential facts: I missed "Buffy". And for what, I ask you?

Well, okay, EJ called me at 7:10 PM and without identifying himself, we had this conversation:

EJ: Hello, Mr. Miller. We're going to win…

Mike: Who is this? Can I call you back? I'm watching "Buffy" I just took some pain medication…"

EJ: "What? We're going to win tonight."

Mike: "What? Why?"

EJ: "Because I talked to our guys, and we're ready."

Mike (turning up volume on TV): "Sure. Okay. Good bye."

Well, okay, Dan Gadzuric burst out of his cocoon. He wasn't a moth. He wasn't a butterfly. He was "Mothra," the 150-foot wingspan monster in a series of Japanese movies. Who knew this guy was going to get a career high 23 points, plus 13 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks (all stats are mine, not official)? Gadzuric fouled out David Dixon (4/4), Jeffrey Day (1/4) and even forced 6-7 Grant Leep (10/7, but 4 fouls) to play C. 23/13 plus drawing 14 fouls ain't bad. Dang. The guy looked like a lotto pick.

Well, okay, once UCLA seized the lead at 55-50 with under 8 minutes to go, the ball almost went exclusively through Jason Kapono's or Billy Knight's hands. By a remarkable coincidence, these guys are the best 1-2 FT shooters, and maybe the best 1-2 shooters, period, in the conference. This was obviously a great improv move by the players. The mere idea that the coaches could have had anything to do with that only makes me miss "Buffy" even more…

Well, okay, Jason did his big 2nd half thingee once again. After getting 5 points and 2 turnovers in the first half when UDub was up 37-30, Jason inexplicably went off for 15 points (4 3s), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 turnover in the second half. For the last 8 minutes of the first half, Lavin was actually hopping up and down on the sidelines, screaming at Jason and soaking his shirt through with sweat while making a shooting motion with his hand. I guess he was lecturing Jason on his defense. Or else Jason's poor performance in the first half had something to do with Lavin's inability to teach his team fundamentals. Or else Lavin was just fulfilling his role as a cheerleader. UCLA shot over 60% in the second half and wound up outscoring UDub by 13 in that half, and once was up by 9, a 16-point differential. All the bad stuff must be Lavin's fault and all the good stuff must be the players just making stuff up.

Billy Knight was a demon with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He actually scored most of his points off drives to the basket. Probably he worked out with Lute Olson this summer, since we know that nobody ever improves at UCLA, let alone improves to where they might go from total scrub as a FR to all Pac-10 as a SR. Matt Barnes unfortunately boggles our minds even further, as he got 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and played great defense throughout, as Matt's Bruins caused 3 turnovers off their press, another coincidence totally unrelated to Matt's healthy ankle.

TJ Cummings got 10 points and 1 rebound, but to make up for his rebounding deficiencies, he played some solid d. Dijon Thompson got 2 points and 3 assists to go with 2 turnovers in an entertaining, if not efficient, performance. Rico Hines disappointed all Bruin fans everywhere with his abysmal 2 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 charges taken. Rico got 4 assists and personally accounted for 5 of Washington's 14 turnovers in the second half, when UCLA outscored UDub 55-42 after trailing 37-30 at halftime. Obviously, Rico should be benched and is only out there as Lavin's good-luck charm…

UDub was in charge most of the first half, mainly because Jason Kapono was passing up his shots and Washington was killing the Bruins on the offensive glass. I think the Huskies got 9 offensive rebounds in the first half, and Curtis Allen, Grant Leep and Josh Barnard got enough open looks from 3 to combine with Doug Wrenn's inside play to give the Huskies' about 15 more possessions than UCLA. Hence, the 37-30 lead. In the second half, UCLA cut down on their own turnovers, caused 13 Husky turnovers between a combo of the 1-2-2 and some opportunistic pressing (and those charging fouls taken by Rico), cut down on their own turnovers (I only counted 5 in the second half, 14 overall), and got the ball to Jason and Billy more (and to Dan for more dunks), and they hit about 63% of their FGs in the second half. More possessions plus better shooting makes other team go boom.

Washington was led by Doug Wrenn, who looked pretty spectacular coming off the bench for his 23/8. Curtis Allen got 13 points and 5 assists and I'll bet UCLA wishes they had a quick PG like Curtis. Josh Barnard, the Tacoma Sniper, sniped 4 3s en route to 14 points. Errol Knight pirated his way to 9 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists and looked pretty dang good for a FR. Grant Leep didn't leap much, but he hit 2 3s and played out of position at C most of the night on his way to 10/7. David Dixon and Jeffrey Day combined for 5 points, 8 rebounds and 10 fouls as Dan Gadzuric danced upon their heads, ground their bones into ashes and drank the blood of their ancestors. Well, you know what I mean…

Basically, the Huskies controlled the game for 32 minutes. They should have won, except they were playing a better team whose turnover margin and veteran poise eventually made the final result inevitable. Funny how that works. UCLA was 16-22 from the FT line, made the right adjustments in the second half, and their talent won out. Ho hum. That makes 4 straight games of the same. It also gives the Bruins their first win at Seattle in 5 years and raises their record to 6-2 overall, 1-0 in conference. The Bruins shot over 50% for the game, hit over 70% of their FTs, and caused close to 20 turnovers for the 4th straight game.

Prediction: UCLA will be 13-2 overall, 5-0 in conference, and will have added home wins over Georgetown and Kansas before Ced Bozeman rejoins the team for their road trip to the desert.

Sorry, I have to watch "Buffy" now. A man must have some enjoyment in his life…


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