Bruins Beat Defenseless Beavers, 70-48

UCLA bounces back after the Oregon loss with a disciplined win against an overmatched Oregon State team...

UCLA hit 66.7% of its second half shots and 61.5% of its shots overall as it defeated Oregon State 70-48 Saturday night in Corvallis. Thus, UCLA followed up its biggest loss margin of the year (29 points to Oregon) with its largest victory margin (22 points). UCLA is now 16-6 overall and 7-4 in the Pac-10. Oregon State falls to 10-11, 3-8.

Unlike Oregon, Oregon State simply lacks the quickness, depth and back line defense to put great defensive pressure on the ball in either the halfcourt or in the form of a fullcourt press. So, unlike the Oregon game, UCLA was able to execute its 1-4 at its leisure and did so with a fairly high degree of efficiency. With a focus right from the start at getting the ball inside, whether through entry passes to Dan Gadzuric or cuts or drives by Matt Barnes, Jason Kapono and Billy Knight, the Bruins burst out to a 10-2 lead and never looked back, although some hot outside shooting by OSU made the first half relatively close thereafter.

Although the Bruins forced up some bad 3-pointers early, they generally got 5-8 touches on the ball and took 25-30 seconds off the clock on each possession. When that happened, they got a very good shot each time. Ced Bozeman found open men repeatedly and registered 5 assists in the first half. Dan got 4 dunks and a sweet turnaround J. Jason hit his first 3, then scored the rest of his points inside. He had 2 old-fashioned 3-point plays in this game, scoring a basket while drawing a foul and then hitting a FT. I mention this because this might be the first time all year that Jason actually finished twice in the same game while drawing contact.

The Bruins did a very good job of keeping the ball away from OSU's big man, Philip Ricci. Dan fronted him for most of the game, and the Bruins seemed particularly aware of the passing lanes into the post, as Billy Knight and Jason Kapono swiped away two attempted entry passes in the first half. The Bruins also did a solid job of forcing OSU's 3-point shooters to hurry their shots in a number of instances. Again, both Billy and Jason stole skip passes, and when they were missing those steals, the OSU players responded by bombing their shots before any of their rebounders were ready underneath. As a result, the Beavers got few offensive baskets.

The Bruins led 31-22 at the half, and their patience, high percentage shot selection and rebounding ground down the slow-moving Beavers in the second half. UCLA seemed to increase its lead by about 4 points with every TV timeout. There no big runs or scoring binges or spectacular dunks off breaks, just old-fashioned basketball from an era that time forgot. I think UCLA attempted only 3 3-point baskets in the entire second half and 7 for the game. Everything was a dunk, a short floater by Matt or a midrange J by Jason or Billy. The Beavers were attempting a lot of 3s, but they just couldn't hit any over UCLA's tall matchup zone. OSU was 7-32 from 3 for the game for a shooting percentage of 21.9%. This is the 3rd time in the last 6 conference games where UCLA's opponent shot under 30% from 3. UCLA outscored Oregon State 39-26 in the second half to make the final margin 70-48.

Dan Gadzuric against stayed out of foul trouble and he responded with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block and 1 turnover in 35 minutes. He hit 9-14 from the field and played strong defense, denying Ricci the ball for most of the game. Jason Kapono led UCLA in scoring with 19 points on 8-12 shooting (1-5 from 3), and added 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. He made only 1 turnover in 33 minutes. Billy Knight got 11 points (5-7 shooting), 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 turnovers in 22 minutes.

Matt Barnes played a solid all-around game, finishing with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 2 charges taken. He did commit 4 turnovers, but made some pretty good passes, and his help defense both inside and outside on the zone was very strong. Ced Bozeman got 8 assists, 2 points and 2 rebounds. He made only 1 turnover in 26 minutes, and his only basket came off his first jam of the season. Ced would normally be about 6 inches higher on that jam, so Bruin fans can perhaps get a better idea of where he'll be in the future, and hopefully within a month rather than by next December.

Lavin went to his bench often in this game. Dijon Thompson had 2 points, 4 rebounds, a steal, an assist and no turnovers in 19 minutes. His defense has improved considerably from early in the season. TJ Cummings left his hair combed out for the second straight game. He also went inside for the second straight game and was very aggressive on defense underneath. So aggressive, he fouled out in just 15 minutes. He finished with 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 turnover. Rico Hines chalked up 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 turnover in 10 minutes. Ryan Walcott registered 1 rebound and 1 turnover in 10 minutes, but again played very good defense and sliced through OSU's defense for a layup attempt that led to an offensive basket for the Bruins when Ryan drew the defense. Andre Patterson contributed 2 points and 1 rebound in 3 minutes (let's see, that projects to 20 points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes…). Josiah Johnson grabbed a rebound.

Ricci led OSU with 11 points and 5 rebounds. That about does it for the Beaver highlights. My favorite Beav, Adam Masten, got 6 points and 6 assists.

Overall, UCLA made 61.5% of its FGs, 42.9% of its 3s and an abysmal 50% of its FTs (fortunately, UCLA only took 6 FTs). OSU made 35.3% of its FGs, 21.9% of its 3s and 62.5% of its FTs. The Bruins outrebounded the Beavs, 31-23. The Bruins made 13 turnovers, the Beavers 14.

This game doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know. The Bruins are at their best in a grinding sort of game. So are the Beavers. Unfortunately for the Beavers, UCLA has better players. So, the only unknown was the final margin of UCLA's victory.

Of more interest to Bruin fans: Can UCLA beat the teams who are at their best playing very different styles than UCLA? That would include USC, Arizona, Stanford and Oregon, who have already beaten the Bruins this season. The Bruins have 3 of those teams at home over the next 3 weeks, starting with USC on Thursday. After watching the Pac-10 games this week, I'm more convinced than ever that every Pac-10 team, including Oregon, will finish with at least 6 league losses this season. So, on the one hand, UCLA is by no means out of the hunt for first place in the conference. On the other hand, they'd have to beat USC, Arizona, Stanford and Oregon.

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