Bruins Hold Serve on Road, 77-67

The UCLA basketball team did what it had to do -- beat an inferior Pac-10 team on the road, prevailing over Washington, 77-67. There were encouraging signs and still some lingering worries...

This is probably the most difficult game to draw any conclusions from.


Not because it was so inconclusive, but because only a very limited number of people on the planet actually saw it.


So, it would be rather presumptious to draw too many conclusions from the radio game report, newspaper account and the box score.


I think it's fairly evident that the team put together a couple of good stretches – one in each half – that essentially won the game for UCLA.  Without having seen it, it's difficult to judge what precipitated those runs.  Many of the accounts attribute it to a renewed effort on defense by the Bruins, which would be a particularly significant development for this team.  UCLA hasn't played very good defense so far this season.  Teams were shooting a Pac-10 best 36% from three against the Bruins before this game. Washington, which as a team was shooting 40% from three and had made 32 threes in its last three games, made just 2 of 12 from three, which is 16.7%.  Again, without being able to see the game, it's impossible to conclude if this was due to UCLA's defense or Washington just shooting the ball poorly.  Or both.   UCLA brought out its man-to-man, which you would assume helped the Bruins get out on Washington's shooters.  The radio commentators did say that Washington was out of sync in their offense and particularly in their outside shooting, which, again, could have been attributed to an inspired effort on defense by UCLA.


There are many positive points to take from this game:


-- Andre Patterson is becoming a force in the paint, blocking 5 shots against Washington and getting his first double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds to go along with 12 points.  He still only played 25 minutes. 


-- UCLA out-rebounded Washington 44-30, which is encouraging (to an extent, since Washington is, though, a very poor rebounding team).


-- T. J. Cummings, at least from listening to the game on the radio, seemed in better control. He had a team-high 16 points and had a career-high nine rebounds.


-- Jason Kapono regained his shooting touch, scoring 15 points and hitting 3 of five from three. He also had five assists.


-- Dijon Thompson did in fact play and was a huge factor, scoring 14 and making some timely assists.


-- UCLA kept Washington, a team shooting 45% from the field on the season, to just 33.3% from the field.


The worries that weren't allayed but linger:


-- UCLA blew a couple of sizeable leads to allow a bad Washington team that was playing poorly to get back in the game and actually tie the score a couple of times. 


-- UCLA committed an astounding 29 turnovers, which is the most in a game in recent memory. And it's easily the most committed in a game by the winning team that I can remember.  Washington pressed the Bruins and that caused many of the turnovers, but many others were just from sloppy ballhandling and passing. Thompson had eight turnovers, and Ryan Walcott had 6, while Walcott didn't have any assists. The turnovers definitely helped Washington stay in the game and made UCLA lose any possible comfortable lead it was hoping to maintain.


-- Realistically, Washington could be the worst team in the Pac-10.  Or at least one of the three worst teams in the Pac-10 (Washington, Washington State and Oregon State are probably the three, all losing on their homecourts last night). Washington's two starting post players combined for four rebounds.  Doug Wrenn, allegedly Washington's best player, made six shots while turning the ball over five times.  He also shoots under 50% from the free-throw line on the season and in this game made just 2 of 7.  


Overall, again, it's tough to take anything from this game – and really, not only because most of us weren't able to watch it.  It's tough to draw conclusions because it's hard to determine if UCLA's strides were solid strides, or just against a really poor opponent.  It's hard to determine whether this was, essentially, Portland all over again. 


But you can at least take a couple of things from it: UCLA played with renewed enthusiasm, according to reports, especially on defense, and you have to give the Bruins credit for that.   And also, in a season where many thought that UCLA could easily lose to Washington on the road, it held serve against the Huskies, exactly what it needs to do if it hopes to contend in the Pac-10 and earn a NCAA tournament berth. 

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