Monday, November 7, 2011

UCLA basketball's interior duo designs exhibition game victory

UCLA forward Reeves Nelson has his shot blocked by Cal State San Bernardino's D.J. Shumpert in the first half Sunday during an exhibition game in Ontario. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / November 6, 2011)

UCLA basketball's interior duo designs exhibition game victory

Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson help Bruins overcome a mostly shaky performance and beat Cal State San Bernardino, 80-72. Smith gets 26 points and seven rebounds; Nelson has 16 points, 10 rebounds.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
7:45 PM PST, November 6, 2011

There was a roll call, a familiar voice over the public address system and even the fan with blue hair heckling opponents when they shot free throws.

Good thing UCLA also remembered to pack Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson for the start of its season-long show.

The interior duo helped the Bruins overcome a mostly ragged performance during an 80-72 exhibition victory over Cal State San Bernardino on Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.

Smith's 26 points and seven rebounds were complemented by Nelson's 16 points, 10 rebounds and one commandment to his teammates.

"Get the ball to Josh!" Nelson yelled while coming out of the game during a substitution.

The Bruins complied, particularly during a stretch with about six minutes left in which guards Tyler Lamb and Lazeric Jones found the sophomore center underneath the basket on back-to-back possessions to sustain a 9-0 run that wiped out a two-point deficit.

"All the guys get it," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "Getting the ball to Josh is going to get a lot of good things for us."

Smith made six of 12 shots and 14 of 18 free throws, the latter statistic particularly encouraging for a player who figures to spend a lot of time at the foul line in coming months. Howland said Smith had made 25 of 32 free throws, including at a recent closed scrimmage.

There were also a handful of less pleasing developments for UCLA. The Bruins struggled with perimeter defense and rushed shots against the Division II Coyotes, who had a large and vocal contingent among the crowd of 6,259.

"It was kind of an away game, something we'll get used to," Nelson said.

UCLA backup point guard Jerime Anderson sat out the game while starting his two-game suspension in connection with the theft of a laptop computer. He will also miss the Bruins' opener against Loyola Marymount on Friday at the Sports Arena.


UCLA struggles but wins exhibition basketball opener

Published: Nov. 6, 2011 Updated: 6:46 p.m.

ONTARIO – Turnovers and fouls by Cal State San Bernardino down the stretch Sunday kept No. 17 UCLA from what could have been an embarrassing misstep.

The Bruins blew an 11-point second-half lead but managed to hold off their Division II opponent for an 80-72 season-opening exhibition victory in front of 6,259 at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

"San Bernardino really was a good test for us today for an exhibition game," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

"When you look at the first half, our field goal percentage was pretty good (40.7) ... but in the second half, they shot better (52 percent).

The Coyotes have not beaten a Division I team in three tries and UCLA did not become the first. But the Bruins came close.

UCLA, behind the inside play of Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson, built what appeared to be a comfortable 56-45 lead midway through the second half.

Usually that would be enough against a lower-level team such as the Coyotes, 17-10 last season.

But San Bernardino didn't back down.

Coyotes senior D.J. Shumpert buried a 3-pointer then added two free throws to jump start a 12-0 run that put them ahead, 57-56, with 8:23 to play.

"We gave them too many open looks," Howland said.

"But it was good to see our guys fight back. We did a good job getting the ball to Josh inside. He was very effective as he was in our first scrimmage."

The Bruins got back into the game by repeatedly pounding the ball into Smith (26 points, seven rebounds) and Nelson (16 points, 10 rebounds) combined with a series of miscues by the Coyotes.


Senior point guard Jerime Anderson sat out the exhibition as part of his suspension because of his arrest for stealing a laptop computer.

He will miss the Bruins' regular-season opener Friday against Loyola Marymount.

"Not having Jerime hurt us by not having a second point guard," Howland said. "But I thought Tyler Lamb did a good job when he had to take over there."

Lamb, starting at point guard, had five points, two steals and one assist.


The Bruins were making their first visit to Citizens Business Bank Arena and Howland was impressed, not only with the facility but with the crowd.

"I was pleased today considering it was raining that we had 6,200 people; that's a nice little exhibition game out here," he said. "Maybe we'll do this again in the future, who knows."

Howland then paused briefly and added, "Probably not because we'll have a new facility... I don't think (athletic director) Dan Guerrero, thinking about it now, will sign off on it."


TERRY PIERSON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER UCLA's Joshua Smith is too much for Theron Laudermill and Cal State San Bernardino in their exhibition game in Ontario on Sunday.

BASKETBALL: Smith, UCLA hold off CS San Bernardino

Published: 06 November 2011 09:43 PM

ONTARIO — The big school didn’t necessarily get to Cal State San Bernardino. The big man did.

UCLA center Josh Smith — all 6-foot-10, 305 pounds of him — proved to be the roadblock the Coyotes couldn’t pass, helping the Bruins outlast their Division II opponent 80-72 in Sunday’s exhibition, a UCLA “home” game at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

UCLA’s Inland visit, kicking off a season of temporary home courts while Pauley Pavilion is remodeled, drew 6,259, and illustrated that home games at the Honda Center and L.A. Sports Arena may not be quite as hospitable as their on-campus facility. A large Cal State contingent at one end of the upper deck made for a relatively neutral atmosphere.

“I was excited they had a great crowd,” said UCLA coach Ben Howland. “That’s what we were looking to do with this game. … It’s great for the Inland Empire fans of UCLA and of Cal State San Bernardino.”

Cal State coach Jeff Oliver called the atmosphere “awesome.”

“I thought it was kind of a dueling crowd,” he said. “They’d get up, and their crowd would go. And when we got in there close and got up, our crowd woke up.”

The Coyotes gave those fans a reason to be engaged, leading 60-58 after a Johnny Bell three-pointer with 7:33 remaining that capped a 12-0 run.

But UCLA responded with a 12-1 burst, going back in front for good on a three-pointer by Reeves Nelson.

Smith, though, ended up doing most of the damage, finishing with 26 points — including 14-of-18 shooting at the foul line — to go with seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

“It’s like a big old wall you can’t move,” said Theron Laudermill, who led the Coyotes with 16 points. “You just try to get around it and just can’t get around it. That’s a big man.

“You try and disengage … but he takes up so much of the paint that it’s tough.”

Howland said the Bruins understand Smith needed to be a go-to player, and not just on Sunday.

“All the guys get it — get the ball to Josh,” Howland said. “He’s going to do a lot of good things for us.”

With Reeves adding 16 points and 10 rebounds, UCLA finished with a 40-30 rebounding edge, and ended up getting 61 of its 80 points from its four frontcourt players. That included 10 from Travis Wear and nine from David Wear, making their UCLA debuts after transferring from North Carolina.

“We have the advantage — we need to get it in to Reeves, to Josh, to Travis, to Dave,” Howland said. “We’ve got to take advantage of the obvious strength we have inside by getting it in.”

That was certainly true against the Coyotes, a good-sized them themselves but not on the order of the Bruins.

“We knew they would be a load on the glass,” Coyotes coach Jeff Oliver said, “and their ability to get to the free-throw line hurt us, too.”

UCLA was 33 of 41 at the line; Cal State, called for 28 fouls to UCLA’s 18, was 15 of 21 at the stripe.

Still, the Coyotes not only had that late lead, but were also still in a two-possession game at 76-70 after a Laudermill three-pointer with 1:21 to play.

“We came with the attitude that we can deal with anybody,” said D.J. Shumpert, who had 14 points and a team-leading seven rebounds. “Whether it’s UCLA or Westmont” — the team the Coyotes face Friday in their regular-season opener — “it doesn’t matter.

“So it was never a nervous thing. It was just mental stuff, stuff we have to work on in practice.”

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