It sure was nice to see UCLA play well in consecutive games and get back-to-back wins on the hardwood.
It was also nice to see the Bruins step up in the absence of forward Travis Wear, who was in the hospital with a foot infection from a cut suffered while snorkeling in Hawaii durung the Maui Invitational. Wear is expected to be released from the hospital today (Thursday) and is listed as questionable for the game against UC Davis this Saturday.
With Ben Howland going with a three-guard lineup and a man-to-man defense (after saying that he was going to play zone a lot more in games) against the Eastern Washington Eagles, Lazeric Jones led the way with a game-high 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, with four assists at the point guard position, in UCLA’s 60-47 win over Eastern Washington before 4,229 at the Sports Arena.
It was the first time that the Bruins have won consecutive games this season, improving their record to 4-5.
And it marked Howland’s 193rd win as UCLA’s coach, pasing Jim Harrick for second place on the all-time list; he now has the distinction of having the most basketball wins in school history outside of John Wooden.
Leading by ten points at 28-18 at halftime, the Bruins did a good job in answering a 12-2 Eastern Washington run, that cut the UCLA lead to two early in the second half, with a 11-1 run.
Free throws then sealed the deal with Tyler Lamb, who scored 14 points despite being in pain from a hip injury, being particularly clutch in hitting six of seven shots from the charity stripe.
One concern that emerged from this game was the fact that the Bruins were outrebounded by the Eagles, 42-32, and were especially beat on the boards as they collected only seven of those to 19 for Eastern Washington.
“Our rebounding has got to be a lot better,” Howland said, stating the obvious.
Joshua Smith didn’t get the ball as much as folks would have liked, scoring seven points in 19 minutes, but though his foul troubles continued as he had four for the second stright game, he was active in blocking three shots.
After starting the season off so badly in losing five of their first seven games, it seems like UCLA is starting to show signs of improvement against these mid-major teams that are always on their schedule this time of year.
It is now a matter of continuing that improvement in the weeks ahead, so they will be well prepared when Pac-12 Conference play begins New Year’s Eve Weekend against Stanford and California.
Here’s the link to the highlights of the Bruins’ win, thanks to uclabruins.com:
UP NEXT: UC Davis, Saturday, December 17, at the Honda Center, 12:00 noon
Being that these Aggies from Davis are 1-8 this year, beating only Division III UC Santa Cruz – with five out of those eight losses being by double digits to boot – this is a game that goes under the category of “If UCLA doesn’t win handily and comfortably, something’s dreadfully wrong and the Bruins may be in trouble.”
The key to this matchup: Don’t take this fellow U.C. school lightly.