The UCLA basketball team’s loss to the Utah Utes has them slip in the Pac-12 standings and weakens their NCAA resume, all because of the lack of defense.
Answer: This team is full of talent, but is consistently inconsistent. Question: What is the UCLA basketball team? (Jeopardy, get it?)
The Bruins had the perfect chance to make a statement in the Pac-12, but instead dropped the ball with a loss to Utah and now have a few things to worry about in regards to the post-season.
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Before the game, UCLA was 1.5 games behind conference leading Arizona. There was an outside chance UCLA could win the regular season championship. Instead, the Bruins put on a defensive effort that was neither defensive nor full of effort.
All season long, UCLA has had trouble playing consistently. They have been known to start and end games on fire, as well as go through horrendous shooting slumps and go ice cold.
Last night against Utah, the Bruins started out hot, but Utah was hotter and had extinguished UCLA’s momentum. David Collette was especially troublesome for the Bruins who started out 4-for-4 from the field before momentarily leaving wth an injury. He returned and ended the night with 21 points and 7 rebounds. It was that kind of night.
This was due to UCLA’s lack of defense pressure. Collette abused the interior, as Bruin big men Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman were ineffective on defense on the paint. The same went for the shooting defense as the Bruins continually fail to close out on shooters. Utah shot 52.7% from the field.
Aaron Holiday (who finished with 23 points) once again came on late and his effort pushed the Bruins to within one point late in the game, but the inconsistency once again had UCLA playing without the needed effort to get the comeback and thusly resulted with a crucial loss.
The loss takes the Pac-12 regular season title out of reach, but even worse, if the Bruins lose again, they are in danger of slipping out of one of the top four spots that would allow them a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament.
It gets worse. UCLA’s loss to Utah (and any other future loss) hurts their NCAA Tournament chances. Several outlets barely have the Bruins making the Big Dance and several have them in the #11 vs #11 play-in game. If that happens, UCLA would have to win three games in one week to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Steve Alford has never gone past that round with the Bruins and as it is, appears as though he might have trouble making it that far.
With two games left, both on the road against Colorado and USC, UCLA just needs to win. Can they do it? As the Bruins coach, Alford has a road win percentage of 32.4. This season the Bruins are 2-5 in conference road games, so that is something to think about.