UCLA Basketball: The Hard Reality of Not Playing Defense


The UCLA Basketball team faces a hard reality that without defense, they have a glaring weakness opponents can exploit.

It was the “Game of the Year” in the Pac-12. The #14 Arizona and #3 UCLA Basketball teams were squaring off in world famous Pauley Pavilion.

It was the hottest ticket in town as Pauley sold out for this epic battle. On top of that, UCLA was honoring the greatest basketball player of all-time, former 3-time UCLA Basketball champion, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Everything was set this west coast heavyweight showdown. The only problem is that Arizona was the only team to show up. More precisely, Arizona was the only team to finish.

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The Bruins have been the epitome of an offensive force. Not only were they the second best scoring team in the country, they had the top field goal percentage.

Though this has been their strength, it was often wondered what would happen to them if they could not produce any offense, seeing as they are not a strong defensive team.

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Unfortunately we found out as Arizona stifled the uptempo Bruins with their defense, which is one of the top defenses in the conference. So with no offense, the Bruins had nothing.

With UCLA only shooting 45.1%, Arizona’s defensive plan was working. They then decided to run their offense right at UCLA and had a lot of success doing it.

Arizona waltzed into the lane untouched, the Bruins did not consistently box out, outside shots by Arizona were uncontested and, not to pick on him, but Arizona picked on the defense-deprived Bryce Alford all game long. In reality though, several Bruins can be called out for not playing defense.

Either way, the bottom line is that Arizona gave the rest of the Pac-12 a blueprint for slowing down the speedy Bruins. UCLA does not consistently play defense and that could harm them the rest of this season.

Though Head Coach Steve Alford has improved efforts on the defensive end since last season, there are still a lot of issues that need to be fixed.

The Bruins can outscore their opponents with ease, but when they are collectively in a slump, they have no backup plan to slow their opponents down.

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UCLA has a chance to correct that this Wednesday against a middle-of-the-road USC Trojans. Though USC has had a rough time in conference, they will be looking to extend their 3-game win streak over the Bruins. Now would be the perfect time for UCLA to show that they can stop a team like the Trojans, especially since they have plenty of reason to enact their revenge.