Rushed Reactions: UCLA 89, Long Beach State 70Posted by AMurawa on December 19th, 2012
Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent and a Pac-12 Microsite writer. He filed this report after tonight’s UCLA-Long Beach State game in Westwood.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Defensive Woes. Offensively, UCLA had a lot to be happy with. Defensively, not so much. While there were stretches of defensive intensity (mostly midway through the second half), the effort wasn’t sustained throughout the game. There were the typical things like not fighting through screens, failing to box out and being late on rotations at times, but the perimeter defense was by and large solid. The most glaring issue was along the front line. Where UCLA’s frontcourt was once considered a possible strength, tonight the Wear twins were owned by Dan Jennings on the block time and again, rarely putting up much of a fight against his power moves. The only possible hope for reinforcements up front would be if Tony Parker were to earn some minutes, but tonight, after playing 18 minutes on Saturday, he only played two minutes with the game in doubt before three minutes worth of mop-up duty.
- Dropping Dimes. Larry Drew II continued his excellent play at the point for the Bruins, as his redemption tour continues. Aside from a pretty brutal game against Texas, Drew has been excellent running the offense this year. With another nine assists tonight, he’s leading the Pac-12 with 8.4 assists per game. But Drew’s game tonight was complete: He knocked down open jumpers (6-of-7 from the field with a couple threes), he grabbed four defensive boards, he only turned the ball over once, and he earned the praise of his coach for his defensive effort.
- Comparing UCLA to LBSU’s Other Opponents. Long Beach State has played four other big time opponents this year: North Carolina, Arizona, Syracuse and Ohio State – all currently ranked in Ken Pomeroy’s top 20. Against those teams, LBSU has not been a good team offensively, averaging just 0.83 points per possession; against UCLA, however, the 49ers scored 1.09 PPP. The good news for UCLA is that those elite teams scored an average of 1.18 points per possession themselves, but UCLA scored 1.39 PPP. Take those numbers for what they’re worth – which probably is not much given the small sample size.
Star of the Game. Jordan Adams. Shabazz Muhammad had his second consecutive 20-point game, but the star of the game goes to Adams in showing that he is going to have no problem getting his even with Muhammad’s role picking up. And Adams got his 24 points in a more efficient fashion that Muhammad, needing just 11 field goal attempts (eight makes, including three from behind the arc), plus he added five boards, a couple of assists, and a ton of defensive energy.
Sights & Sounds. UCLA broke out the holiday version of the kiss cam – the Mistletoe Cam – in the middle of the second half and, at the end of the gimmick, they featured three Long Beach players on the cam. The trio did not oblige the cheers of the crowd.
Quotable: Ben Howland: “I was really pleased today with Larry Drew’s defense. That’s the best game of Drew’s career, as far as UCLA goes.”
Wildcard. Missed Dunks. Shabazz Muhammad missed three dunk attempts tonight: one on a spectacular try at a tomahawk on a breakaway that came up short; a second on a lob attempt that Larry Drew II left a little bit short; and the third in the second half which drew a LBSU foul. But, he’s beginning to attack the basket with the intensity he drew fame for prior to his college days. He’s definitely beginning to shift into much better game shape and his play is improving in turn.
What’s Next? Long Beach State is done with its typically brutal non-conference schedule (aside from a BracketBusters appearance in February) and will open Big West play by hosting Pacific a week from Saturday. The expectation is that Keala King and Tony Freeland will be eligible for that game. UCLA meanwhile will host Fresno State on Saturday, then following a few days off for the holidays they’ll face Missouri on December 28 in their final non-conference game and last chance to score a non-conference win to impress the NCAA Selection Committee.