Jan 24, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad (15) celebrates after the final buzzer against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center. The Bruins beat the Wildcats 84-73. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

O’Risky: UCLA Bruins Take Tucson

UCLA came out on a mission tonight at Arizona and they completed it. Led by the hot hand of Shabazz Muhammad, the Bruins punched the Wildcats right in the mouth almost from the opening tip. #6 Arizona took possession of their only lead twenty two seconds into the game. Thirty seconds later Muhammed nailed a 3-pointer and the Bruins never looked back. The Bruins attacked the rim most of the game instead of settling for jumpers, which paid big dividends. Not doing so against Oregon cost them dearly. Hopefully that lesson is learned.

Shabazz Muhammad led all scorers with 23 points. His leadership and determination inspired his teammates. Travis Wear started 3-3 from the field, but left the game after getting hit in the head and displaying concussion like symptoms. Jordan Adams added 15 points and warrior-like play on both ends of the floor. David Wear hustled and scrapped and added 15 points as well. Kyle Anderson contributed 8 points and 12 rebounds, but also had 4 turnovers, including some pretty foolish plays. He needs to get a bit more serious with the ball. LDII had a tough night from the field, but was stellar dishing out assists. It can’t hurt that he has some very skilled offensive players to pass to, but so does Anderson and he doesn’t make anywhere near as sound decisions as Drew. Tony Parker saw more floor time tonight and did contribute effectively for the most part.

UCLA was 3-8 from three and 47.8% from the field as many of their points came from around the rim. Arizona was miserable from three going 5-24. The Wildcats shot 38.4% from the field overall and never seemed to find a rhythm except in small spurts fueled more by UCLA errors than their own hustle. UCLAs biggest lead was 16 points in the first half (21-5). Arizona closed within 5 before halftime, but went into the locker room down 10 (40-30) In the second half UCLA built their lead back up to 15 (49-34), only to see Arizona whittle it to 4 points at the 11:15 mark (55-51). However, Arizona never got closer as the Bruins scored timely baskets and hit some clutch free throws to keep the buffer around double digits.
This was a huge win for the Bruins in terms of their hopes of keeping pressure on the conference leading Ducks. Saturday’s game against less heralded Arizona State is vitally important in maintaining that pressure, separating the Bruins from the pack and locking in at least a 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tourney. Well played game by the Bruins. Coach Howland obviously had the team well prepared and managed the team effectively. On to Tempe.

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  • disqus_28xCUG66YK

    Spot on about Anderson and Coach Howland. Anderson is too casual with the ball. We were down 62-61 against Oregon with a chance to go ahead when Anderson nonchalantly threw a weak pass towards Muhammad that was easily picked off. It fueled the seven point outburst that allowed the Ducks to pull away. Anderson focuses too much on making the spectacular play instead of the fundamentally sound one. He needs to mature. Coach Howland had the Bruins superbly prepared for Arizona and it showed. He deserves to be cut some slack. This team is improving, learning and becoming dangerous thanks to Coach Howland.

    • GoJoeBruinUCLA

      Look, i want to cut him some slack but every freaking time something good happens, it’s like he’s immune and untouchable to some fans. It is really annoying. BTW this team is good and for other reasons besides Howland.

      • disqus_28xCUG66YK

        Every team is good for reasons other than the coach. That’s why results vary every year from team to team an thank God for it. No one I know suggests Howland is immune. In fact, while I wouldn’t agree with it, I would understand if he was gone at the end of the season. Conversely, I get frustrated with people who believe Howland is bad coach and niggle over every little thing. It smells like politics instead of honest assessment.

        • carlosatUCLA

          No yeah, that much is true and I think we know who we’re referring to here — BruinsNation.com, obviously — but I do think we should be critical. That said, it’s tough to say he coached terribly against Arizona. Sure, there were a couple of so-Howland moments where he takes out freshmen when they’re hot, but the prep for this game was very good, especially after losing to Oregon, a team that relies on rebounding to win as much as UA does.