After posting an ugly buzzer-beating win over Washington on Thursday, the UCLA Bruins (18-6, 8-3 Pac-12) raced out of the gate and never looked back, trouncing Washington State, 76-62.
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Aside from some impressive three-point shooting, the Cougars (11-13, 2-9 Pac-12) seemed overmatched from the opening tip. The Bruins used a combination of efficient offense and pestering defense to stifle Wazzu, building up a 26-16 lead by the 8:55 mark of the first half.
While UCLA was constructing its lead, the Cougs were held scoreless for over nine minutes. The Bruins were as active defensively as they’ve been all season, clogging up the passing lanes and swatting shots left and right. In all, UCLA tallied 12 steals and four blocks, making Saturday’s victory the most impressive defensive showing of the season.
But that wasn’t all the Bruins did well against Wazzu.
UCLA shot the lights out at Pauley Pavilion, finishing the night with a ridiculous 62 percent shooting mark. Couple that with 22 assists and 72.7 percent shooting from the charity stripe, and you get an impressive all-around outing from the Bruins.
As per usual, Shabazz Muhammad paced UCLA with 17 points, but the rest of the boys in blue were getting buckets, too.
In all, four Bruins finished in double figures, as Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Travis Wear finished with 14, 12 and 11 points, respectively. Each of UCLA’s eight scholarship players ended with points on the board, including much-maligned center Tony Parker.
Parker saw the floor for eight minutes against Wazzu, closing the evening with four points on 2-of-2 shooting. The 6’9″, 275-pound freshman from Lithonia, Ga. also recorded a block, and most importantly, did not commit a foul or turnover. Considering how penalty prone Parker had been so far this season, his ability to avoid being whistled could be huge news for the Bruins.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news for the home team, as UCLA was outrebounded for a fourth consecutive game. Washington State was attacking the glass on both ends of the floor, besting the Bruins by 10 boards, 27-17.
UCLA’s inability to corral rebounds has been an Achilles’ heel all season, and has lead directly to a few losses for the Bruins. Whether or not the problem can be remedied is unclear, but it doesn’t bode well for remaining matches against Arizona State and USC.
Looking ahead on the schedule, UCLA heads to the Bay Area to face Cal and Stanford this week. Historically, the Northern California road trip hasn’t been kind to the Bruins, including last season when Howland’s squad was swept at the Maples and Haas Pavilions.