Wednesday, November 23, 2011

UCLA rallies from big deficit, but No. 14 Kansas holds on

UCLA forward David Wear, center, beats Kansas forwards Thomas Robinson, left, and Justin Wesley to a rebound during the second half of the Bruins' 72-56 loss at the Maui Invitational on Tuesday. (Eugene Tanner / Associated Press / November 22, 2011)

UCLA rallies from big deficit, but No. 14 Kansas holds on

via Orange County Register
Published: Nov. 22, 2011 Updated: 11:30 p.m.


LAHAINA, Hawaii - UCLA missed shots, threw sloppy passes, seemingly had no chance at stopping Kansas on defense.

Then something happened: The Bruins' shots started falling, the Jayhawks were missing theirs and the lead quickly dwindled.

UCLA just couldn't sustain it — not after falling into that big of a hole.

The Bruins trimmed a 20-point lead down to five before running out of steam in a 72-56 loss to No.14 Kansas in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday night.

“We can't keep coming back and trying to come back — it's difficult to get over that hill,” said Jerime Anderson, who had 14 points. “I'm very inspired by our team's comeback and our will and our fight, but we just need to put ourselves in a better position to win the game.”

Kansas looked unbeatable early and flustered in the middle before securing the victory.

All that work just to face an even more formidable challenge: No. 6 Duke, the undisputed king of Maui, in the championship game.

Kansas (3-1) looked as though it was going to run away from the Bruins at the start, going up 12 points in the first 6 minutes and building from there.

The Jayhawks fizzled with a flurry of turnovers and defensive breakdowns to let UCLA back in it, then pulled away over the final 5 minutes for a harder-than-expected victory.

Elijah Johnson scored 23 points, Thomas Robinson had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Tyshawn Taylor added 13 points and six assists for Kansas.

Next up for the Jayhawks is Duke, the undefeated four-time champions in Maui in what could be one of the most exciting championship games in the 28-year history of the Maui Invitational.

UCLA (1-3) got off to a brutal start and rallied to trim a 20-point lead down to five. The Bruins lingered for a little while before running out of steam, headed toward the third-place game instead of the championship.

Tyler Lamb led UCLA with 15 points.

“We were right there,” Anderson said. “That second-half comeback is much easier if we're even or closer in the first half. Some things don't go our way, we come back and if a team makes another run, that's the hardest thing to do is come back from two runs.”

Swinging the ball around in halfcourt sets and getting out on the break, the Jayhawks opened the game with a 14-2 run and kept pushing. Kansas hit 12 of 24 shots in the half — 5 of 9 from 3-point range — had 10 assists and got 13 points from Johnson to lead 43-26.

The Jayhawks still looked as though they were going to run away with it to start the second half, then went into a funk.

Unable to stop the Bruins or hold onto the ball, Kansas went nearly 61/2 minutes without a field goal as UCLA trimmed a 20-point lead down to five with eight minutes left.

The Jayhawks finally put a stop to UCLA's momentum with a couple of baskets by Robinson, then pulled away as the Bruins cooled off.

“We knew they weren't going to just go away and lay down,” Taylor said. “We got out to a big lead early, but we knew we had to continue to play. We just had to keep battling out there.”

UCLA opened a season of expectations in disappointing fashion, losing by double digits to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State.


UCLA can't climb out of hole, loses to Kansas, 72-56

A sloppy start gives way to comeback in Maui Invitational semifinal, but 14th-ranked Jayhawks hang tough. Lazeric Jones and Joshua Smith, in particular, struggle with shooting and fouls.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
11:03 PM PST, November 22, 2011

Reporting from Lahaina, Hawaii — For the first time this season, UCLA did not have a player sitting out because of disciplinary issues.

And still, the Bruins lacked restraint.

Starters Lazeric Jones and Travis Wear continued to take — and miss — shots and center Joshua Smith kept on chugging up the court in a foul-plagued cameo, dropping UCLA in a 20-point hole early in the second half against No. 14 Kansas.

The Bruins nearly climbed all the way out behind an inspired effort from guards Jerime Anderson and Tyler Lamb before falling short in a 72-56 loss to the Jayhawks on Tuesday night at the Lahaina Civic Center in a Maui Invitational semifinal.

Subbing for the ineffective and foul-plagued Jones, Anderson scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half. He made an NBA-range three-pointer to pull UCLA to within 57-52 with 7 minutes 59 seconds remaining, but the Jayhawks ended the game on an 11-0 run to move into the championship game against Duke on Wednesday.

The Bruins (1-3) will play No. 15 Michigan (4-1) in the third-place game.

UCLA doomed itself with another horrid start in which it fell behind by 17 points at halftime thanks to poor shooting and a flurry of 11 first-half turnovers. Jones missed all five of his shots and Wear missed all three of his attempts in the first half, pleasing a decidedly pro-Kansas crowd that also included Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers and Ron Holmes, the father of top UCLA prep target Shabazz Muhammad.

"We can't keep coming back and continuing to come back," Anderson said, "because it's difficult to get over that hill."

Guard Elijah Johnson had 23 points for Kansas (3-1), which shot 51.1% to UCLA's 36.4% and appeared completely unfazed by the Bruins' brief attempt to implement a 2-3 zone for the first time this season.

Kupchak didn't get much of a look at Smith because the NBA prospect fouled out in only 13 minutes. Smith moved back into the starting lineup, but it was as if he didn't show up at all, finishing with one point and one rebound and two turnovers.

The 6-foot-10, 315-pound sophomore picked up fourth foul only 3:31 into second half and went to the bench. He re-entered the game with 8:20 left and lasted only 81 seconds before picking up his fifth foul. Howland said the Jayhawks' double-teams bothered Smith and acknowledged that Smith's conditioning was an ongoing issue.

"It's evident," Howland said.

Still, UCLA made a 12-0 run to draw within 51-43 midway through the second half before Jones picked up his fourth foul with 11:20 left.

That's when Anderson took over the point guard duties and made both of his three-pointers, helping the Bruins draw within five points. Lamb also made a three-pointer during the run and finished with a team-high 15 points.

Howland said his best lineup in the game was Anderson, Lamb, David and Travis Wear and Reeves Nelson, the junior forward who came off the bench to collect 12 points, five rebounds and two steals. The Wear twins combined for six points on two-for-10 shooting to go with six rebounds.

Howland said he was considering giving Anderson more time at point guard in the wake of Jones' season-long struggles. Jones made only one of six shots in the game and has made only 27.3% of his shots to Anderson's 53.8%. Jones has also tallied only one more assist than Jones despite playing 29 more minutes.


Shaky start dooms the Bruins against the Kansas Jayhawks

The Daily Bruin in Men's BasketballSports
Published November 22, 2011, 11:41 pm

LAHAINA, Hawaii — One of the most popular tourist activities in Hawaii is hiking. Tuesday, UCLA picked a wrong time to do just that.

The Bruins got off to a shaky start and gave themselves too much of a deficit to overcome, a valiant comeback coming up short in a 72-56 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks in the semifinals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

“It’s difficult to get over that hill,” UCLA senior point guard Jerime Anderson said. “I’m inspired by our comeback, but we need to put ourselves in a better position to win the game.”

UCLA (1-3) appeared overwhelmed at times in the first half against No. 14 Kansas (3-1).

The Jayhawks built a 43-26 lead after 20 minutes and stretched the lead to 20 on the first possession of the second half.

The Bruins inserted sophomore center Joshua Smith into the starting lineup, hoping to get a lift, but to no avail.

Smith eventually fouled out and finished the game with just one point and one rebound.

“We got off to a terrible start,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “They doubled (Smith), and that hurt him.”

With Kansas threatening to turn the game into a rout early in the second half, Howland went to a lineup of Reeves Nelson, the Wear twins, Tyler Lamb and Anderson.

For a while, he was able to bottle some of that Hawaiian lightning.

That group keyed a 21-6 run that cut Kansas’s lead to 57-52 with just more than seven minutes to go; Lamb missed a transition 3-pointer that could have trimmed the margin all the way down to two.

The Bruins never got closer than that, as Kansas would eventually close the game out on an 11-0 run.

“I was really happy the way guys fought back in the second half,” Howland said. “I think we ran out of gas.”

UCLA’s run was keyed by hot shooting from the trio of Nelson, Anderson and Lamb, the latter two making a number of big 3s for the second consecutive night.

The trio combined for 41 points, with 8-of-11 shooting from 3-point territory.

Still, the strength of this team is supposed to be its size, and the Bruins made just eight field goals from inside the arc.

“We’ve got to get more inside scoring,” Howland said.

“We’ve got to get more of a presence inside and do a better job there.”

Most importantly, UCLA needs to do a better job of starting the game off on the right foot.

Starting slow did not end up costing UCLA against Chaminade on Monday night – when UCLA turned what was merely a two-point game at halftime into a rout – but it certainly did on Tuesday night.

UCLA will face another well-coached, crisply executing team in Michigan in today’s consolation contest.

A third consecutive slow start could spell trouble once again.

“I just think it’s within ourselves,” Lamb said.

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