The UCLA Men’s Basketball team recorded their 6th consecutive win Thursday evening, beating the Cal Bears 79-65 to open the Pac-12 season.
Some key stats dictated the contest between the Bruins and Bears, which UCLA had dominated for most of the first half, before letting Cal narrow the lead to 4 points near the end of the game. UCLA was able to pull away late in the game with key shots by Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, and nailing free throws in the clutch.
Free throws were essentially the difference in the game, as the Bruins outscored the Bears by 18 from the foul line hitting 23 of 31 shots from the charity stripe compared to 5/8 for Berkeley. UCLA’s defense held Cal to 6 points under their season average, allowing 39.5% from the field, while only committing 11 fouls. The Bears’ offensive struggles extended beyond their inability to reach the free throw line.
Cal shot an abysmal 0/13 from the 3-point line, which made it nearly impossible for them to stretch the defense and get higher quality shots. This season’s leading scorers, freshmen Muhammad and Jordan Adams had a poor shooting night, but Travis Wear, Anderson, and Norman Powell stepped up and contributed with very efficient shooting.
Allen Crabbe is an offensive force, as he hit right on his season average of 21 points, but the Bruins defense stepped up on Cal’s 2nd best player in Justin Cobbs. Cobbs, who usually averages over 16 points per game on 53% shooting, scored only 12 points on a lowly 33.3% from the field. Cobbs’ poor shooting night helped UCLA pull away from Cal when it mattered.
The Bruins, who have averaged 11 turnovers per game this season, really took care of the ball Thursday night, giving up the ball only 7 times. The main ball-handlers, Larry Drew II and Kyle Anderson combined for 2 turnovers.
The only category where UCLA did not outperform Cal was in rebounding, where the Bears grabbed 9 more offensive boards, and 8 more total rebounds than the Bruins. Cal had many second-chance-point opportunities, but was unable to convert. Kyle Anderson led UCLA with 12 rebounds, an area the Wear twins could definitely improve, and where playing freshman center Tony Parker a few more minutes may benefit coach Howland.
All in all, this was a very good win to start conference play for a very young Bruins team. This squad has been growing and improving before our eyes, and they leave UCLA fans optimistic for the future of this season.