UCLA Bruins head coach Ben Howland, Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
The Bruins secured a win over a very mediocre Stanford team on Saturday at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto. I’m not one to turn my nose up at a victory, especially one on the road. As I detailed previously, it was a critical game for UCLA. However, in the context of the season, I’m not sure we got many takeaways from the game unless what we saw is sustained going forward.
UCLA was outrebounded 38-36, but in fairness, Stanford racked up seven rebounds to our one in the last 1:03 of the game. The Bruins were up eleven points at that juncture and shooting free throws the rest of the way. That means that when the game was up for grabs the other 38:57 the Bruins out rebounded Stanford, 35-31. I’ll take that versus our normal rebounding results.
The Bruins’ shot selection improved, which not surprisingly improved their results. Layups and dunks made up 21 of UCLA’s 57 shots, or 36.8 percent. We made 71.4 percent (15-21) of those high-percentage shots. The Bruins made 31 out of 57 shots overall, and went 16-of-36 on jumpers for 44.4 percent shooting from range. Our overall field goal percentage was good: 54.4 percent. Our free throw shooting was good: 76.9 percent. Our 3-point goal percentage was good: 50.0 percent. Offensively, there was a lot to like in the game.
Larry Drew II (10), Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Negatives would include Travis Wear’s lack of production, Tony Parker logging just two minutes (a continued problem this season), and allowing Stanford to score 10 points above its average. Parker’s playing time and Stanford scoring 80 aren’t unusual. Wear’s limited offense (0-2 from the field) may be cause for concern, but isn’t a huge headline because his lack of productivity was more than made up for by the other four starters. The likes of Larry Drew II, Jordan Adams, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson went off for a combined 61.4 percent shooting from the floor (27-of-44 overall, and 5-of-7 on three-point attempts). If that is part of the trend, I like it…but I doubt it can sustain itself.
Positives include the exemplary shooting of the three freshmen and LDII, better rebounding and energetic defense. The Bruins seemed on the edge of blowing out the Cardinal while also being intent on keeping them in the game throughout. That stated, the Bruins responded every time Stanford made a run. I think ultimately this game falls into the category of “a win’s a win’s a win.”
Looking forward, UCLA has an opportunity for a modicum of redemption when they visit crosstown rival Southern Cal this coming Sunday at the Galen Center. The Trojans seem to be reborn since the firing of Kevin O’Neill, winning four of their last five games and playing fairly inspired ball. It sez here that the Bruins ought to win with Coach Howland having a week to prepare for the rematch.