We all knew the team wouldn't shoot 80% for a half on a regular basis, but 20% in the first half was pathetic. Several times early UCLA executed its offense well and got the ball inside for good looks and either missed the shot or got it blocked. As Ben Howland said in the postgame, Reeves Nelson and others need to learn to not rush, use the shot-fake, and at least draw fouls. Arizona has two guys inside in Derrick Williams and Jamelle Horne who are leapers and will go for fakes. Even Malcolm Lee and Mike Roll, who ordinarily use the up-fake well, got swatted by Kyle Fogg by rushing a shot inside. It got really bad when J'mison Morgan entered the game; he was officially 0 for 1 with 1 made free throw but he had two point-blank looks at the basket that he missed, one he was literally alone and hesitated and never really powered up. It's particularly frustrating to run a nice play to get a post-up only to watch the post unable to finish.
It was one of those total nightmare halves, with Roll, Lee and Nikola Dragovic combining to shoot 1 for 14; Roll and Lee having several turnovers, while Roll was absolutely annihilated on defense, unable guard anybody they put him on. Dragovic was also as poor as he usually is. Add in Anderson struggling to defend after apparently tweaking his groin in the ASU game (Howland confirmed it but said he didn't know how much of a factor it was) and Arizona got just about any look they wanted and even missed several easy shots, including putbacks. Meaning: It could have been a lot worse. UCLA was lucky to only be down 15 at the half as badly as they played. It was one of those games where you say, "If we can get this to 6 or 8 by the half we're in business," and suddenly it's a 15-point deficit.
UA hit a three-pointer to go up 18 to start the 2nd half and really from that point on it was essentially trading baskets. UCLA got to within 9 or 11 in the 2nd half but every time the Wildcats would answer by hitting a big shot to extend the lead. Fogg was just killing UCLA off the dribble, with Anderson and Roll completely unable to guard him. He was 9 for 12 for a career-high 25 points, all mostly from layups or open 3s, making perhaps one difficult shot in the game. Add in four three-pointers from Horne, and Williams' 16 points and 9 rebounds dominating inside and it was just simply a blowout.
Lee and Roll did have nice second halves but too little too late. Dragovic was only 2-7 and never hit a three. UCLA was 3 for 15 as a team from three after shooting the lights out against ASU on Thursday. Getting only 8 points from the bench hurt too. Tyler Honeycutt seems to have hit a bit of a wall; he's still rebounding and passing well but seemingly is having trouble finding shots. It difficult to figure why Howland isn't using him more inside, especially against a team like Arizona, which often had much smaller guys on him. Honeycutt's match-up advantage really wasn't exploited until well into the second half. The most glaringly frustrating aspect of this game was watching Wildcats blow by defenders off the dribble repeatedly and Howland not utilizing the zone that worked so well against ASU. In his post-game comments, he attributed it to a conern about offensive rebounding since Arizona was killing UCLAon the glass, even in man to man. It appeared, however, the rebounding dominance by the Wildcats was mostly due to UCLA never being set on defense because it was always scrambling to cover up after someone got beat off the dribble. He possibly was concerned that Nic Wise might get hot. As the first half wore on, and UCLA continued to get torched in its man defense, you could see UCLA get increasingly frustrated because they couldn't stay with Arizona's dribble penetration, which definitely deflated their offensive execution. Howland might have to come to grips with the fact that this team can't play man defense for 40 minutes.
One of the starkest impressions of the game was how much more athletic Arizona was than the Bruins, not only in Arizona's ability to take UCLA off the dribble, but particularly in rebounding. Arizona continually got second chances on their offensive end with offensive rebounds while UCLA commonly was one (ill-chosen) shot and out. One of the most glaring statistics of the game was, in the first half, UCLA having 11 defensive rebounds while Arizona had 10 offensive rebounds. In other words, on Arizona's offensive end of the floor, the rebounding was even. .
When your five-man line-up very often includes Anderson, Roll, Keefe, and Dragovic, there aren't too many teams you're going to be better than athletically.
Coming into the game it seemed like it'd be a pretty even match-up, with both teams having a record of 6-7 and having struggled with their inexperience, but it ultimately proved to be a mis-match.