Tuesday, November 29, 2011

UCLA puts it all together to beat Pepperdine, 62-39

Bruins forward Travis Wear (24) and center Anthony Stover battle for the ball with Waves center Corbin Moore (44) at the Sports Arena on Monday night. (Kirby Lee / US Presswire / November 28, 2011)

UCLA puts it all together to beat Pepperdine, 62-39

Bruins play a solid all-around game, especially on defense, and cruise to victory.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
11:20 PM PST, November 28, 2011

This was the kind of retro feel UCLA was going for this season.

There were huge runs against a seemingly overmatched opponent.

Waving arms swatted shots and forced turnovers.

Fans had something to cheer besides having beer at a college sporting event.

The Bruins were back to dominating in the building where they routinely humbled foes and won two national titles, thrashing Pepperdine on Monday night at the Sports Arena during a 62-39 victory.

UCLA (2-4) used suffocating defense and a 22-4 push to close the first half to move into the win column against Division I opponents and notch its first victory at home after dropping its first two games against mid-majors.

"Sometimes you have to get a win to know how to win," said guard Lazeric Jones, who supplemented a game-high 14 points with six steals and four assists.

Not that there were many around to see it. An announced crowd of 3,885 that seemed less than half that number included a student section 34 strong.

Those who were there witnessed the Bruins' best defense of the season as they forced 15 turnovers, blocked eight shots and held Pepperdine (3-3) to 31.3% shooting.

"It was a completely different group of guys out there," said UCLA Coach Ben Howland, whose team had allowed three of its first five opponents to shoot better than 50%.

"We did a much better job rotating, helping, scrambling, supporting one another, switching when we needed to switch. Our team defense was by far the best effort we've had all year, and that's how we have to play."

Their offense wasn't too shabby either.

Sophomore forwards David and Travis Wear combined for 18 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks and two lost teeth when Travis Wear ran into an elbow while trying to rebound a free throw.

"I picked one up off the ground," said Travis Wear, who will have the teeth re-implanted Tuesday.

UCLA freshman guard Norman Powell turned in a pick-me-up performance with a steal and a breakaway dunk on the way to a career-high 10 points.

It was the kind of showing longtime UCLA fans became accustomed to when the Bruins won 86.1% of their games as the home team in the Sports Arena from 1959 to 1965.

Comfortably ahead in the second half, the Bruins refused to let up, using a 19-7 surge to take a 27-point lead. UCLA also held the Waves without a double-figure scorer; center Corbin Moore and guard Josh Lowery each scored nine points.

Ten years to the day of its last victory over UCLA, Pepperdine hung around for the first 10 minutes as the teams combined for only 17 points and the Bruins held a three-point lead.

That's when UCLA's defense stiffened considerably, helping the Bruins transform a 7-6 deficit into a 28-11 halftime lead. Senior guard Jerime Anderson forced a turnover and then fed Jones for a three-point basket. Travis Wear took a charge and then made a putback on the other end of the court.

The Waves didn't reach double digits until Moore's tip-in with 1 minute 54 seconds left in the first half.

Howland credited his players for redoubling their efforts and changing how they defended ball screens.

"It just goes to show if we play hard and do what we're supposed to do on defense, everything falls into place," David Wear said. "This is how we need to play going forward."


UCLA gets it right against Pepperdine

Published: Nov. 28, 2011 Updated: 10:50 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – After stumbling to a 1-4 start, UCLA took steps Monday to right its season with a 62-39 victory against Pepperdine in front of a sparse crowd at the L.A. Sports Arena.

The nonconference victory — the Bruins' first against a Division I opponent — won't fix all the Bruins' problems, but the lopsided game served as a reminder of how good the team can be when everything works smoothly

"Getting a win was very important," Coach Ben Howland said. "We were dying to get a win. We have to play with that kind of desire every time to be successful."

The early going has been rough for the Bruins, who lost their first two games — to Loyola Marymount then to Middle Tennessee State. They then went to the Maui Invitational, where they won just one of three games.

But they seemed to put all that behind them Monday and focus their energies on Pepperdine (3-3).

UCLA, picked to finish first in the Pac-12, went on a 20-2 run in the first half, smothered the Waves at the other end and built a 26-9 lead late in the first half. The Bruins led, 28-11, at halftime.

The Waves pulled to 12 points back in the second half but couldn't get any closer as the Bruins pulled away in the final 10 minutes.

"We're on the path to being a very good team," UCLA's David Wear said.

Lazeric Jones led the Bruins with 14 points, while David Wear and Norman Powell each contributed 10 points. Travis Wear pulled down 10 rebounds despite losing two teeth in a collision.

Reeves Nelson picked up two fouls in two minutes during the first half and returned to the bench, where he started the game.

On Sunday, Howland said the troubled forward would not start "any time soon" because of his attitude and disciplinary issues.

Nelson missed the team bus to Los Angeles International Airport for the flight to Hawaii, and then he missed a players banquet that preceded UCLA's opener of the Maui Invitational. As punishment, Howland sat Nelson for the first half of that game. He came off the bench in the other two games in Hawaii.


UCLA BASKETBALL: Bruins finally latch on to wave of momentum with 62-39 victory over Pepperdine

By Vincent Bonsignore Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 11/28/2011 10:35:49 PM PST
Updated: 11/29/2011 12:41:54 AM PST

At the end of a long, dreary Monday came a glimmer of hope for UCLA.

The Bruins' basketball team showed signs of waking up from its early-season slumber in a 62-39 win over Pepperdine at the Sports Arena.

Lost in the drama unfolding with the UCLA football team, which culminated Monday with the firing of underachieving head coach Rick Neuheisel, is the Bruins' underwhelming start on the hardwood.

Back-to-back losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee, mixed in with some off-court turmoil by temperamental forward Reeves Nelson and a pair of blowout setbacks in Hawaii to Kansas and Michigan, created a worst-case scenario for a team looking to rebound from two relatively down seasons.

Then came Monday and a definite step in the right direction against Pepperdine, by far the Bruins' most convincing, complete performance of the season.

For the first time this season UCLA (2-4) successfully defended the perimeter, especially during a first half in which Pepperdine managed to make just 5 of 19 shots from the field for 26.3 percent. Best of all was the 0-for-3 the Waves (3-3) shot from 3-point range as the Bruins have had particular trouble slowing teams down from behind the arc.

Pepperdine finished the night making 15 of 48 shots and 3 of 9 3-pointers, with Taylor Darby scoring nine points to lead the way.

"Our need for a win tonight was exemplified by how hard we played defensively," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "Our team defense was by far our best effort of the year.

"That's how we have to play."

The crisp defense, coupled with better rebounding, enabled the Bruins to get out and run for some easy transition points.

"Seeing guys get on the floor and communicate, that's how we have to play," said Lazeric Jones, who led the Bruins with 14 points and had six steals. "It was better effort, better communication, everything."

It all culminated with a 20-2 run midway through the first half in which the Bruins built a 17-point lead.

"Going forward, this is how we have to play," David Wear said. "I think we showed defensively and offensively what kind of team we can be."

The second half was much the same, with UCLA opening a 50-29 lead after a 3-point play from Wear and extending it to 54-31 on a basket by Nelson, who once again came off the bench.

Norman Powell and Jones also got untracked in the backcourt with both sinking 3-pointers in the second half and finishing the game in double figures. Powell finished with 10 points.

"Norm came off the bench and played well for us," Howland said.

Wear added 10 points and brother Travis Wear finished with eight.

Travis Wear, incidentally, got two teeth knocked out after getting elbowed in the second half. He wasn't wearing his normal mouthpiece when it happened.

"I just ran into his elbow," Wear said. "It was inadvertent."

The good news is he didn't lose them in vain.

"He'll always remember he got them knocked out in a win," Howland said.

All in all, it was a much-needed confidence boast for a team struggling to find an identity, rhythm and consistency.

"Definitely something to build on," Travis Wear said.

Granted, Pepperdine won't be confused with Kansas anytime soon but the Waves do have a win over Arizona State to their credit, albeit a loss to Cal State Bakersfield as well.

But with the Bruins off to a 1-4 start - and considering that win came against tiny Chaminade in Hawaii - they can be excused for feeling pretty good about themselves after taking care of Pepperdine.

Peel back the layers of dominance and some interesting tidbits are uncovered.

First, 10 Bruins finished in the scoring column, proof of how well the ball was moving and the ease with which they were running the floor and converting.

Making as much of an impact was the work being done on the glass, with Travis Wear pulling down 10 rebounds. Pepperdine ended up beating UCLA on the boards 36-35, but the Waves did so with a big second-half push and with the game in hand.

Most important of all was the defensive pressure being applied to the Waves, with UCLA fighting through screens to chase down shooters and siphoning off on the inside.

The Bruins forced 15 turnovers and came up with 15 steals.

All in all, it was everything UCLA could have hoped for after playing as poorly as it did over its first five games.

And for a school reeling from the firing of its football coach, a definite ray of sunshine.


UCLA notches first win over D-I opponent

The Daily Bruin
Published November 28, 2011 in Sports: Bruin Sights
Updated:November 28, 2011, 11:28 PM

When you’ve got as long a list of issues as the UCLA men’s basketball team had through five games, sometimes you’ve got to start by addressing the small things.

Like communicating on defense, hustling to capitalize on loose balls and fighting tooth and nail on both sides of the ball — even when a stray elbow takes out two of your pearly whites.

UCLA soundly defeated Pepperdine, 62-39, Monday night at the Sports Arena. In the process, the Bruins (2-4) started to make progress on their “fix-it” list. That wasn’t the case through their first five games, including a 1-2 trip to Maui, when the list just kept growing.

“We learned that defensively we weren’t very good,” redshirt sophomore David Wear said of the team’s performance in the Maui Invitational. “We didn’t match our opponent’s intensity. I think tonight we really got together and showed how good a team we can be defensively.”

It was apparent early, when the Waves failed to crack double digits on the scoreboard until just under two minutes to go in the first half. Though the Bruins weren’t spectacular on offense, holding an opponent to 11 first-half points was a significant improvement.

“Rotating, helping, scrambling, supporting one another, switching when we needed to switch — our team defense was by far our best effort that we’ve had all year,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

The Bruins finished with eight blocks and 10 steals against the out-manned Waves (3-3) while finally notching a win over a Division I opponent. They also forced 15 turnovers and scored 21 points off the miscues.

Senior point guard Lazeric Jones led the team with his 14 points, but it was the redshirt sophomore Wear twins who seemed a bit more at ease on offense and defense. David finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Travis had eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

A shot to the mouth dazed Travis early in the second half. When he had a chance to sum up the damage, he saw one of his teeth on the floor and one still hanging by a thread. Damage that could have been prevented if he was wearing his mouthguard.

“Like he was supposed to,” Howland sternly noted. “I think that he’ll be wearing it from now on.”

Attendance dwindling

The Bruins finally got their first “Road Show” win, but did it in front of the their smallest crowd of the year.

In losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State, the announced attendance at the Sports Arena was 5,382 and 4,758, respectively.

Howland emphasized how appreciative he was that 3,885 showed up for UCLA’s win over Pepperdine.

“Those are true blue Bruin fans,” Howland said. “1-4 hasn’t happened here in a long time.”

“We’re our biggest fans,” Jones, a captain, added about his team. “If you look back at the tape, you’ll see the bench a little more alive.”

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