At least their football counterparts won their second game!
After getting punked, dissed, bullied, and just plain outplayed by a mid major school for the second straight time, UCLA’s basketball team is in trouble, losing to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders 86-66 before a small crowd of 4,758 at the Sports Arena on Tuesday night.
That is a fairly harsh thing to say after only two games, with the season being so young, but with the way the Bruins have been playing – letting players drive for easy layups and not contesting shots from behind the arc – I’d be worried about them if they played Mater Dei High or Westchester High right now.
They are that bad.
Reeves Nelson sat out the game due to suspension, but he wouldn’t have made much of a difference as MTSU shot 71.4% from the floor and missing only one of their 11 shots from three-point range. The Blue Raiders particularly made it a blow out in the second half as their lead grew to 22 at one point.
LaRon Dendy led the damage as he had 16 points and 13 rebounds, one of five MTSU players in double figures.
As for the Bruins, they only made 37.3% of their shot and only four of 20 baskets from the arc; they showed that they can’t shoot three point shots worth anything as over their first two games, Ben Howland’s team has made only six of 35 shots overall from there – a pathetic 17%!
Tyler Lamb and Lazeric Jones were especially offensive in making a measly three of 18 shots combined. The Bruins’ guard play is clearly a source of the team’s futility in this early going.
Josh Smith led UCLA with 15 points and nine rebounds, scoring 11 of those points in the second half, but Travis Wear was the only other Bruin in double figures as he scored ten. Jerime Anderson, in his season debut following a suspension of his own, contributed nine points off the bench.
If this team can’t beat teams like Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State, I shudder at the prospects of them trying to beat opponents like Texas and Arizona down the road.
I suppose there’s not much more to say about this squad, which is frankly quite sorry at this point in time, except that they better find a way to get better and start actually winning games.
NEXT UP: Chaminade in the Maui Invitational, Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, HI, Monday, Nov. 21, 6:30 p.m.
EDITOR’S POSTSCRIPT / UPDATE:
Bruins forward Reeves Nelson was reinstated from his suspension on Wednesday after he assured coach Ben Howland that his attitude and behavior toward the team, on and off the court, would improve.
The suspension, which Howland termed as indefinite, lasted two days.
Nelson will be with the team when they go to Hawaii next week for the Maui Invitational, which will feature big-name programs like Georgetown, Michigan, Memphis, Tennessee, Kansas, and a little school named Duke whose coach, Mike Krzyzewski, is only the winningest coach in the history of Division I college basketball, beating Michigan State this week for his 303rd win.
With the way UCLA is playing right now, can you say a big, fat, “uh-oh” ?