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UCLA gets rude awakening in opener
By SCOTT M. REID / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Published: Nov. 11, 2011 Updated: 11:21 p.m.
LOS ANGELES – UCLA spent thousands of dollars on giving the Sports Arena, the Bruins' new temporary home away from home, an overdue facelift.
Too bad the overhaul didn't include a bomb shelter.
Loyola Marymount buried No. 17 UCLA with a barrage of 3-point baskets, ruining the Bruins' opening night with a 69-58 upset in front of 5,382 on Friday.
The West Coast Conference school shot a blazing 66.7 percent from behind the 3-point arc, 75 percent in the second half when the Lions turned back a final Bruins run with a series of long-range bombs.
After UCLA regained momentum with an 8-3 run that cut the LMU lead to 55-50, the Lions' C.J. Blackwell responded with a 3-pointer from the right side. Lions forward Ashley Hamilton then slammed the door on the Bruins, draining a 3-pointer that put LMU up, 68-55.
"Obviously, that's a very disappointing way to start our season off," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
"The locker room reaction isn't really angry, but maybe stunned is more appropriate," Bruins forward Travis Wear said.
With Pauley Pavilion undergoing renovation, UCLA opened the season with their first home game at the Sports Arena in 45 years. But seat covers and presenting the outside of the arena awash in blue floodlights could not dress up the Bruins' glaring problems.
Hamilton finished with a game-high 23 points, with Lions guard Anthony Ireland adding 21, nine of those points coming a trio of wide open three-pointers. Blackwell was 3 for 4 from behind the 3-point line.
"We really made a number of defensive mistakes," Howland said.
There were plenty of miscues on the offensive end as well.
"We took a number of shots that weren't great shots," Howland said.
Especially from behind the 3-point arc. The Bruins shot 13.3 percent from behind the 3-point line (2-15), missing all eight 3-point attempts in the second half.
"We were shooting too many threes," Howland said.
The Bruins were also unable to overcome a poor performance by point guard Lazeric Jones. With Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, a high school teammate, in the crowd, Jones turned in one of the worst performances of his UCLA career.
Jones was 1 of 11 from the field and had as many turnovers as assists (3). Jones wasn't the only Bruin out of sync. Sophomore center Joshua Smith was limited to just 16 minutes because of foul trouble, finishing with five points.
The Bruins will have little time to regroup. UCLA plays host to Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday.
"We obviously have a lot of work to do," Howland said.
Loyola Marymount hands UCLA an unwelcome housewarming
By Arash Markazi
November, 12, 2011 12:24 AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- If the UCLA Bruins didn’t already like the idea of playing their home games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena this season, they will like it even less after losing their season opener, 69-58, to Loyola Marymount.
With Loyola Marymount fans in the upper deck of the aging arena chanting, “This is our house!” and “Overrated!” in the final seconds, the Bruins, ranked No. 20 in the coaches poll and No. 17 in the AP poll, were stunned in front of a sparse crowd of 5,382 fans, many of which left before the game was over.
UCLA looked confused, lost and uninspired on the court from the opening tip, which has come to be an early season staple of the Bruins under Ben Howland the last two seasons with losses to Montana in '10 and Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State in '09.
Loyola Marymount outworked and outhustled UCLA in every aspect of the game and never looked back after taking a 34-33 halftime lead. The Lions controlled the second half and ran away with the game after going on a 12-0 run to take a 53-42 lead with 13:22 left in the game.
If this weren't UCLA's season-opener, perhaps a November game against the Lions could be overlooked, but UCLA fans that made the dreaded drive to USC’s campus to watch their team play expected more from a team ranked in the preseason for the first time since 2008.
Instead they got the same old team they’ve come to expect the past couple of seasons, which starts out slow and flames out late.
UCLA was primarily hurt by the Loyola Marymount tandem of Ashley Hamilton, who scored 23 points, and Anthony Ireland, who added 21 points. The Bruins consistently got beat by dribble penetration and The Lions kicking back out after drawing double teams, which accounted for the Lions being wide open outside and hitting 10 of 15 three-pointers.
The Bruins also attempted 15 three-pointers but hit just two and took one ill-advised shot after another and never was able to get good ball movement. The biggest reason for this fell on senior guard Lazeric Jones, who averaged a team-best 3.6 assists last season. On Friday night, he made just 1-of-11 shots for 3 points and committed 3 turnovers. Sophomore center Joshua Smith finished with just 5 points on 2-of-4 shooting after getting in early foul trouble.
Perhaps UCLA will improve in the shooting department when they get senior guard Jerime Anderson back, after he served his one-game suspension after he was arrested in July for allegedly stealing a computer, but even Howland admitted his presence would not have changed the outcome.
“We had a lot of mental breakdowns defensively and offensively we took a number of shots that were not great shots in key times of the game,” Howland said. “Josh never really got in sync and was only in for six minutes in the first half with the two fouls. They really did a good job on him and caused us problems with their help defense.”
The game’s only highlight for UCLA was the much-anticipated debut of David and Travis Wear, who had to sit out last season after transferring from North Carolina. The 6-10 twin forwards combined for 24 points and 13 rebounds. The only other bright spot was Reeves Nelson, who added 13 points and 8 rebounds. Everyone else in UCLA’s locker room wishes their season opener was actually next week against Middle Tennessee State.
“The locker room reaction isn’t really angry, maybe stunned is more appropriate,” Travis Wear said. “Anyone on our schedule can beat us if we don’t play 100 percent.”
Loyola Marymount wasn’t even playing at 100 percent for the game. The Lions’ best player, Drew Viney, who led the team with averages of 17.2 points and 6.6 rebounds last season, missed the game after undergoing surgery on his left foot.
“It’s a bad loss for us getting out of the gate,” Howland said. “We have a lot of work to do but I’ve been saying that. We have a long way to go.”
Loyola Marymount stuns UCLA in opener
Lions have more sense of purpose than 17th-ranked Bruins in 69-58 upset at the Sports Arena.
By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
11:35 PM PST, November 11, 2011
Loyola Marymount Coach Max Good recently joked that he had asked UCLA counterpart Ben Howland to send a second-level team to the opener to make it a fair fight.
It appeared as if Howland did.
The 17th-ranked Bruins seemed completely out of sorts during a 69-58 loss Friday night at the Sports Arena, their inside-out approach appearing more upside-down throughout a game in which they didn't have a coherent plan on offense and were equally bad on defense.
The Lions repeatedly beat UCLA off the dribble and played with more confidence and a greater sense of purpose throughout their first victory over the Bruins since 1941.
It was not the kind of debut UCLA was seeking in its season-long home while Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations.
"The locker room reaction isn't really angry, but maybe stunned," UCLA sophomore forward Travis Wear said. "Anyone on our schedule can beat us if we don't play 100%."
UCLA junior forward Reeves Nelson was out of rhythm for long stretches and sophomore center Joshua Smith finished with five points and four rebounds in 16 utterly forgettable minutes.
But no Bruin struggled as mightily as senior point guard Lazeric Jones, who made only one of 11 shots and had three turnovers, equaling his assist total. Jones also failed to contain Loyola Marymount's Anthony Ireland, his quicker counterpart, who repeatedly made uncontested forays to the basket on the way to 21 points.
"I didn't feel any pressure at all," Ireland said. "As a matter of fact, since we are a small school, it actually pumped us up."
It might have been just the opposite for Jones, who was trying to impress former high school teammate Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls star who was in the crowd along with former UCLA standout point guards Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison.
The Lions used a 12-0 run to take control, and Bruins fans started leaving when Ashley Hamilton's three-pointer gave Loyola Marymount a 65-55 lead with 3 minutes 40 seconds left. Hamilton tied a career high with 23 points on eight-for-15 shooting, making two of his team's 10 three-pointers.
The Lions made history of sorts, ending UCLA's 36-game winning streak as the home team in the Sports Arena. Of course, it didn't mean all that much given that the Bruins hadn't logged a victory there since 1965.
The game had a subdued feeling from the opening tip. The crowd of 5,382 filled about half of the two lower bowls, and only a sprinkling of fans sat in the upper bowl. The student section appeared to be a few hundred strong.
Nelson, fresh off his appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, scored 13 points but was a non-factor in the first half and badly missed all three three-pointers he took. The Bruins also failed to consistently get the ball to Smith, whose two early fouls limited him to six minutes in the first half.
UCLA was playing without backup point guard Jerime Anderson, who was completing his two-game suspension in connection with the theft of a laptop computer. The Bruins made two of 15 three-pointers.
The media's preseason pick to win the Pac-12 Conference might have trouble finishing in the upper half of the West Coast Conference if this was any indication.
"It's definitely not how we wanted to start the season off," said small forward David Wear, who had 13 points in his UCLA debut, "but it is the first game and it's a long season. We're going to get back to practice and do whatever we can to get better."
UCLA BASKETBALL: Lions crash homewarming party for No. 17 Bruins, who fall
By Vincent Bonsignore Staff Writer
Posted: 11/11/2011 10:58:06 PM PST
Updated: 11/11/2011 11:34:07 PM PST
It wasn't an aircraft carrier, and the president of the free world wasn't in the stands watching.
While the UCLA basketball home opener Friday at the Sports Arena against Loyola Marymount lacked the pizazz and pageantry of the North Carolina-Michigan State match up on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in Coronado it certainly didn't lack for nostalgia.
On top of the drama, the No. 17 Bruins could have done without in a 69-58 loss to the Lions.
Drama, as in their LMU neighbors giving them big-time problems from the get-go, never once backing down and pretty much controlling the tempo and game throughout.
As in the Lions' Ashley Hamilton torching the Bruins for 23 points and Anthony Ireland adding 21.
And their fans chanting "This is our house" by the end of the game.
"We really had no pressure tonight. We just wanted to play our game," Hamilton said.
"They drove us all night," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "They were great."
As in UCLA forward Reeves Nelson playing on a sprained left ankle, and looking a bit out of sorts while scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
As in UCLA sophomore center Joshua Smith never getting untracked, despite owning a huge height and girth advantage over the Lions.
Smith had five points and four rebounds. But he took just four shots in 16 minutes against a smothering Lions' defense that utilized a variety of different looks against him.
"He never got in sync," Howland said.
And finally, as in the Bruins taking poor shots offensively and making too many mental errors defensively.
LMU shot 66.7 percent on 3-pointers, making 10 of 15, and burned the Bruins time and again on dribble drives.
The Bruins took 15 3-pointers and made just two of them. They shot just 40.7 percent from the field overall.
"We took some ill-advised shots when we probably should have held it," UCLA forward Travis Wear said.
All in all, it was a dreadful start to the season for the Bruins but a memorable one for the Lions, who now have three wins against UCLA in 18 meetings.
"Definitely not the way we wanted to get started," said UCLA forward David Wear, Travis' twin brother.
Wear added 13 points to join Nelson for the team lead, while Travis added 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Wears, who transferred to UCLA from North Carolina in the spring of 2010 and sat out all of last season per NCAA rules, enjoyed productive debuts while flashing the skills that made them such high recruits out of Mater Dei High.
If you're wondering why the Bruins were at the Sports Arena to begin with, keep in mind they will play 18 games there this year and four at the Honda Center in Anaheim while Pauley Pavilion gets its long-awaited facelift.
The new Pauley is scheduled to open next season, but for now UCLA will play a little back to the future while playing the majority of its games at its former home next door to the Coliseum - and adjacent to USC.
UCLA played six years at the Sports Arena (1959-65) and compiled a 67-14 record, finishing off their stay riding a 27-game winning streak and consecutive NCAA championships - the Bruins' first two titles under John Wooden.
By the 1965-66 season they moved onto Pauley Pavilion, although they returned to the Sports Arena periodically during the years USC called it home.
Still, considering it had been so long since playing there as a home team, it took a little while for the Bruins to get a feel for their new digs.
The unfamiliarity, combined with a scrappy LMU team hoping to completely ruin UCLA'S home opener, made what seemed like a sure blowout a competitive game.
In fact, the Lions opened a 53-42 lead with 12:01 remaining on a pair of free throws by Hamilton.
The Bruins went on an 8-2 run from there, capped off by a layup from Reeves Nelson. To draw within 55-50 with 7:35 to play, and all of a sudden they were right back in it.
C.J. Blackwell answered with a 3-pointer and the Lions were back up 58-50, and three minutes later Hamilton sank a 3-pointer to put LMU ahead 65-55 with 3:40 remaining, and never relinquished control.
"We have a lot of work to do," Howland said.