I remember this happening before – UCLA coming off some losses and on a bit of a downturn, then facing a very beatable team and handling their business.
It happened earlier this season when the Bruins beat up Pepperdine after losing to two ranked teams, Kansas and Michigan, which left them at that time with a 1-4 record.
And it happened on Thursday night when, after two tough losses in Oregon, Ben Howland’s squad faced a pretty bad Utah team and used a balanced scoring attack, nine three-point baskets, and a shooting percentage of nearly 60% – while holding Utah to 37% – to blow out the Utes 76-49 before a rather mellow crowd of 4,434 at the Sports Arena.
The win was Howland’s 200th as the Bruin head coach.
Here is a highlight clip of the win:
I’m sure that UCLA was glad to be on their home court, as their play showed such; four Bruins scored in double digits, led by Joshua Smith’s 14 points on five-of-six shooting, with five rebounds as Utah was completely overmatched by him.
David Wear also took advantage of the edge that UCLA had inside to score 13 points and grab five boards, and the Bruins’ guard trio had a good night as Lazeric Jones had six assists, while his senior backcourt mate Jerime Anderson matched Wear’s points total of 13 and Tyler Lamb hit two key three-point shots to finish with ten points for the night.
To add to the Bruin fun, they had ten steals in the game, led by Anderson and Lamb with three each, and forced a total of 14 turnovers.
The one big disappointment was Tyler Trapani, the great-grandson of the great coach John Wooden who’s the last guy on the bench, not getting a chance to shoot the ball when he got into the game in the last two minutes.
It was a good win for the Bruins that upped their record to an even 4-4 in the Pac-12 Conference (11-9 overall) and “…was a real confidence booster for us,” acccording to Wear, but the whole affair reminded me of when I was in my high school’s marching band and, whenever we won a competition, the director would tell us to feel good about the win, but keep in mind that the opponents provided little competition.
With all due respect to the Utes, that described UCLA and Utah last night as the Buirns won a game that they were supposed to win, with the tougher competition coming this Saturday afternoon against a Colorado team that’s 14-6, tied for first place in the Pac-12 at 6-2, and coming off a 24-point walloping of USC on the road.
It’s safe to say that those Buffaloes will provide the real test.