Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bruins step on Spiders 71-63

Lazeric Jones scored 16 points and was one of five Bruins in double figures Friday. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US Presswire

UCLA is man enough to admit mistake, uses zone to beat Richmond

Coach Ben Howland, who prefers man-to-man defense, switches to zone after early struggles and it spurs UCLA to fifth straight win, 71-63. Lazeric Jones (16 points) leads five Bruins in double figures.

By Baxter Holmes
The Los Angeles Times
11:05 PM PST, December 23, 2011

UCLA Coach Ben Howland enjoys employing a zone defense as much as most people enjoy a glass of sour milk.

But with the Bruins getting trampled early against Richmond on Friday, Howland, a tried-and-true man-to-man man, felt he had to make the switch.

And, behold, it worked.

Helped by their zone defense, the Bruins frustrated Richmond's Princeton offense and fought back for a 71-63 win before 4,194 at the Sports Arena.

"If we hadn't gone to zone, we wouldn't have won the game," Howland said.

UCLA (7-5) has won five straight and wrapped up the nonconference portion of its schedule. And the Bruins will open Pac-12 Conference play Thursday at Stanford with momentum they only could have dreamed of when they were 2-5.

"Our slow start and adversity earlier in the season has really forced us to come together and each win is really helping our confidence," said guard Jerime Anderson, who had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Coming in, UCLA had rolled four straight opponents, advancing the notion that dismissing Reeves Nelson from the team had solved most, if not all, of the Bruins' issues.

Of course, it's easy to convey that idea against Pennsylvania, Eastern Washington, UC Davis and UC Irvine.

Richmond (7-6) was different. The Spiders lost four starters from last season's team that won 29 games and advanced to the NCAA Southwest Regional semifinal, but they still had a fierce bite, as UCLA learned early.

Richmond jumped to a 14-5 lead early as its offense, predicated on constant motion, backdoor cuts and patient passing, threw UCLA out of sorts. The Spiders made six of their first 10 shots.

But then UCLA switched from man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone, and Richmond missed 14 of its next 16 shots.

"They were pretty good shooters from the outside," forward Travis Wear said, "but fortunately we were able to cool them down a little bit."

The halftime score was 24-24, UCLA's lowest-scoring half this season, but after halftime the Bruins used a quick 7-0 run to take a lead.

Richmond hit a few scoring droughts, missing more shots from outside.

But inside, UCLA found some offense.

The Bruins scored 38 points in the paint, many of them in the second half.

And Wear scored all 14 of his points in the second half, including 10 in the final five minutes, to help seal the win.

David Wear added 12 points, and Howland said it was the best combined effort yet from the Wear twins.

UCLA had five players score in double figures for the second straight game; only guards Norman Powell and Tyler Lamb had bad shooting nights, going a combined two for 13.

Senior guard Lazeric Jones scored 16 points to lead UCLA, his seventh straight game with double-digit points.

Guard Darien Brothers scored 25 points to lead Richmond, which shot 33%.


UCLA BASKETBALL: Bruins continue to be in a zone in 71-63 win over Richmond

By Jon Gold Staff Writer
Posted: 12/23/2011 10:29:23 PM PST
Updated: 12/23/2011 10:38:44 PM PST

Late in the second half of UCLA's last non-conference tuneup on Friday night, a man dropped to his knee and proposed to his girlfriend at the Sports Arena.

She said no.

It was only the second biggest rejection of the evening.

UCLA sophomore forward Travis Wear blocked a Kendell Anthony attempt with a six-point lead and 1 minute, 16 seconds left immediately after scoring on a crucial rebound-and-putback, and the Bruins preserved their fifth straight with a 71-63 victory over Richmond.

"That was a very good win for us," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "A very important win. That's a hard team to play against - their style of play and their strategies, you don't see that often. That really caused us problems early."

Richmond made 6 of 10 shots to start the game as its Princeton offense caused fits against UCLA's man-to-man defense before the Bruins switched to a zone, and the Spiders went ice cold, making just one of their next 14 shots. UCLA trailed 14-5 and 21-12 but a late first-half spurt allowed the Bruins to tie it at 24 at the half.

Howland, who is typically hesitant to play zone, credited the switch for the victory.

"The zone really helped us tonight," Howland said. "If we hadn't have gone to zone, we wouldn't have won the game. It's been good for us. There's going to be times when we have to go to it. I'd rather play man - but I knew going into this game that they're so hard to guard. They're so precise."

The Bruins were the sharpshooters in the second half, though.

UCLA made 16 of 26 shots (61.5 percent) in the second half, starting off with a quick 7-0 run and kept the Spiders at arm's length for much of the half. Senior guard Jerime Anderson had 11 second-half points, including a quick five during the Bruins' early second-half spurt.

"We got a lot better shots," Anderson said. "We started getting to the rack a lot more. Our motion offense gave them problems with their matchup defense. We got a lot of good things inside."

The Bruins' better ball movement resulted in a balanced offensive effort, as five players finished in double figures, led by senior point guard Lazeric Jones' 16 points. UCLA's balance offset a big night from Richmond's Darien Brothers, who finished with 25 points and five 3-pointers.

"We knew they'd try to backdoor us, and I think it overextended us a little bit," Wear said. "When we went to that zone, obviously they're not going to get those open doors because we're packing it in the paint. Fortunately we were able to cool them down a little bit."

Wear and his twin brother David, though, stayed hot.

The twins played their best cumulative effort against the Spiders, combining for 26 points on 12-of-22 shooting and totaling 11 rebounds.

Travis Wear had all 14 of his points in the second half, and his block proved crucial as the Spiders could not cut the gap any further.

"I was just trying to be active," he said. "I think I was overthinking when I was in there in the beginning, but I was just trying to go to open spots."

The win, UCLA's fifth straight after a 2-5 start, gives the Bruins some momentum heading into Pac-12 Conference play. The team opens its conference schedule Thursday at Stanford.


Richmond gets lost in UCLA's zone

Published: Dec. 23, 2011 Updated: Dec. 24, 2011 12:26 a.m.

LOS ANGELES – Ben Howland has finally zoned out

UCLA (7-5) extended its winning streak to five games with a 71-63 victory against Richmond at the Sports Arena Friday night, and the Bruins coach credited the victory to of all things UCLA's zone defense.

"The zone really helped us tonight," said Howland, an ardent proponent of man-to-man defense. "If we hadn't gone to zone we wouldn't have won the game."

The Spiders (7-6) led by nine points in the opening half before UCLA switched to a 2-3 zone that enabled it to get back into the game and in the second half break it open.

UCLA held Richmond to 33.3 percent shooting and just 10 points in the paint. During one 11:42 stretch Richmond scored just two field goals. The drought allowed the Bruins to open the second half with a 7-0 run.

"That was big to get us to start the second half like that," Howland said. "Because we had zero momentum to start the game."

The Bruins also had no momentum after a 2-5 start marred by injuries and off-the-court distraction of Reeves Nelson's spat with Howland that led to Nelson being dismissed from the team. UCLA now heads into its Pac-12 opener at Stanford on Thursday showing signs of the team picked to win the conference.

"Our slow start and adversity early in the season has forced us to come together," UCLA's Jerime Anderson said, "and each win is really helping our confidence."

The play of Anderson has helped. The Canyon High standout helped spark the turnaround against Richmond with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists, both team highs.

Anderson's backcourt mate, Lazeric Jones, pumped in a team-high 16 points as five Bruins finished in double-figures scoring for the second consecutive game.

With Anderson and Jones directing UCLA's motion offense, the Bruins were able to expose holes in Richmond's match up zone. UCLA outscored the Spiders 38-10 in the paint.

"We got a lot of good things inside," Anderson said.

Richmond took a 14-5 lead, but the Spiders missed seven consecutive shots from the field as the Bruins began to find the basket. David Wear's layup with 9:01 remaining in the opening half cut Richmond's lead to 14-12.

A 7-0 run gave the Spiders their 21-12 cushion.

Men's basketball defeats Richmond and will begin Pac-12 play with five-game winning streak

The Daily Bruin
Published December 24, 2011 in Sports: Bruin Sights
Updated:6 hours ago

UCLA will head into conference play on a five-game winning streak capped by the Bruins’ best win of the year, a 71-63 defeat of Richmond on Friday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

After an ugly first half that saw both teams put up 24 points each, the Bruins (7-5) blitzed to seven straight points out of the break and would not trail for the rest of the game.

Both teams shot better from the field and limited their turnovers in the second half. UCLA’s 2-3 zone defense kept Richmond (7-6) cold for most of the game, but Richmond’s momentary switch to a 1-3-1 zone late in the second half helped the Spiders crawl back into the game.

A pair of Richmond 3-pointers made it a four-point game with four minutes to play. That was before redshirt sophomore Travis Wear, who had a foot injury that kept him out of two games, responded with eight straight points for UCLA to put the game out of reach.

UCLA dominated Richmond’s frontcourt, winning the rebound battle 42-30 and turning 16 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points.

For the second straight game, five Bruins had double-digits in scoring: Lazeric Jones (16 points), Travis Wear (14), Jerime Anderson (13), David Wear (12) and Joshua Smith (11).

UCLA coach Ben Howland warned that his team was in for a difficult test prior to the game, but his Bruins emerged with a win over a program that was in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season. The challenges ahead are tougher: UCLA will face Stanford (10-2) and California (10-3) to open Pac-12 play next week.


UCLA Basketball Wins Fifth Straight, Downs Richmond, 71-63 Lazeric Jones scored 16 points for UCLA in win over Richmond

The Official UCLA Men's Basketball website
Dec. 23, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Lazeric Jones scored a team-high 16 points to lead UCLA to its fifth consecutive victory, a 71-63 win over Richmond at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Friday night.

UCLA (7-5) had five players score in double-figures and outrebounded Richmond (7-6) by a 42-30 margin.

Jerime Anderson tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Travis Wear poured in 14 points, and David Wear netted 12 points and seven rebounds. Joshua Smith scored 11 points and had five rebounds.

"It's a very good and important win for us against a good, well-coached team," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. "You don't see their style and system often. They really packed it in and made it difficult for Josh [Smith] to move around. After the fifth or sixth shot, we went to the zone, which really helped us win the game."

Richmond was led by Darien Brothers' game-high 25 points. Brothers made 8-of-16 shots, hitting 5-of-10 shots from three-point range.

UCLA hit just one shot in the game's first 5:38, falling behind by an 11-3 margin before Anderson made a layup with 14:22 left before halftime.

Richmond maintained its early first-half cushion against UCLA, leading 14-5 and 20-12 in the first seven minutes before the Bruins rallied to tie the game at halftime, 24-24.

In the final minute of the first half, UCLA claimed its first lead of the game, taking a 22-21 lead with 44 seconds to play on a jump shot from David Wear. Brothers nailed a three-pointer for Richmond with 31 seconds left before Jones answered with a layup three seconds before halftime, tying the game, 24-24.

"Offensively, in the second half, we did a better job, cutting harder, better spacing, more movement and running motion," Howland said. "It's important for us to put something together after the slow start. We're playing better and are much more cohesive."

The Bruins opened the second half with a 7-0 scoring run to secure a 31-24 advantage. UCLA did not trail after halftime, but never pushed its lead to double digits until the game's final 17 seconds.

"We're getting some confidence, and that's huge," Jones said. "Everyone is rooting for each other. It feels good to get some wins. We have to build on this."

UCLA led 63-59 after Richmond's Derrick Williams made two free throws. On their next possession, the Bruins answered with a put-back by Travis Wear on a missed shot from David Wear with 1:33 left in the game.

After Richmond missed a layup with 1:16 remaining, the Bruins pushed their margin to eight points (67-59) on a layup from Travis Wear with 40 seconds left.

UCLA closed the first half on a 19-10 scoring run, with Jones and David Wear leading the team with eight points each before halftime.

Friday night's game marked the Bruins' final non-conference contest before the team enters Pac-12 play at Stanford on Thursday, Dec. 29. Game time at Stanford's Maples Pavilion is 8 p.m. (PT). The UCLA-Stanford game will be televised on Prime Ticket.

UCLA has one non-conference game left on its regular-season schedule, playing St. John's at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday, Feb. 18.


Five observations: UCLA 71, Richmond 63

By Peter Yoon, UCLA Report
December, 23, 2011 11:49 PM PT

LOS ANGELES -- After a dismal start to the season, UCLA has found a little momentum at just the right time.

The Bruins defeated Richmond, 71-63, Friday night at the Sports Arena, giving them a five-game win streak in their final nonconference tuneup before heading into Pac-12 Conference play against Stanford and California next week.

UCLA (7-5) is a much different team at Christmas than it was at Thanksgiving, when the Bruins were 1-4 and fading fast. But thanks to a December surge, UCLA is headed back it the right direction at the right time of the season.

"It was important for us to start to put something together after starting off 1-4, 2-5," coach Ben Howland said. "We’re playing a lot better right now. The team is very cohesive, very together, very unselfish. They are having fun, they are enjoying each other. It’s really a nice family atmosphere and it’s fun to have that."

After losing three of their first four games at the Sports Arena, the Bruins have now won three in a row at their home away from home while Pauley Pavilion is under renovation. The win streak comes just as the Bruins kiss the building goodbye for more than a month.

They next play at the Sports Arena on Jan. 26 with road games at Stanford, Cal, USC, Oregon State and Oregon coming up and home games against Arizona and Arizona State at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

But more important than the venue is that the Bruins are gaining confidence as they head toward those all-important conference games.

"A lot of teams that do well in conference play are teams with momentum," center Joshua Smith said. "This is our fifth win in a row and Pac-12 is going to be harder so we need that momentum."

UCLA center Joshua Smith is harassed by Richmond's Derrick Williams, left, and Cedrick Lindsay while trying to power his way to the basket in the first half Friday night at the Sports Arena. Smith finished with 11 pts, 5 rbds and a block (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / December 23, 2011)

The victory over Richmond was especially important because it gave the Bruins a victory over a quality opponent. The Spiders (7-6) are the first team with a winning record that UCLA has defeated during its current win streak. UCLA's last two victories came against UC Davis (1-11) and UC Irvine (3-9), so the jury was still out on the Bruins.

The Spiders were a Sweet 16 team last season and though they lost three starters from that team, the victory carries a little more clout than any other UCLA victory this season.

"That was a very big win for us," Howland said. "A very important win."

Five observations from the game:

1) UCLA was in the zone

The Bruins started out in a man-to-man defense, but after Richmond made six of its first 10 shots and took a 14-5 lead, Howland switched to a zone with about 15 minutes remaining in the first half. The Spiders made only two more field goals the rest of the half and made only three field goals the first 13 minutes of the second half as UCLA took control.

"Obviously if we hadn’t gone to zone, we wouldn’t have won the game," Howland said.

Richmond ended up shooting 33.3 percent for the game, marking the fourth consecutive opponent that UCLA has held below 40 percent from the field.

"The zone helped us a lot tonight," Smith said. "They were a hard team to guard in man and we’ve acknowledge the fact that we can run zone and it can work for us. It really helped us come back and it’s nice to have that when we need it."

2) It was a balancing act for the Bruins

For the second consecutive game, UCLA had five players score in double figures. Lazeric Jones had 16 points, Travis Wear had 14, Jerime Anderson had 13, David Wear had 12 and Smith had 11.

And on a night when Tyler Lamb and Norman Powell, the two leading scorers from last game, combined for only five points on 2-for-13 shooting, the Bruins showed they have scoring depth up and down the bench.

"To get five guys in double figures, I really love that," Howland said. "When we get five guys in double figures we’re going to have a good chance to win."

3) Jerime Anderson was a catalyst

Anderson had one of his strongest performances of the season with 13 points, six assists and a career-high seven rebounds. He led a second-half charge with 11 points after the break, including five during an early second-half spurt that turned a 24-24 tie into a 31-24 UCLA lead. The Bruins never lost the lead after that.

"It kind of opened a little bit more in the second half," Anderson said. "I picked my spots trying to get to the rack and I was more aggressive and that was it."

He was also key down the stretch, getting three assists in the final 3:30 as the Bruins staved off a late Richmond rally.

"He really orchestrated a lot for us," Howland said. "I thought Jerime had one of his best games of the season for sure."

4) Travis Wear came up big down the stretch

Wear was having a rather pedestrian game until the final five minutes. He scored 10 of UCLA's final 17 points, including an alley-oop dunk from Anderson. He was 6 for 10 from the field, but was 5-for-5 in the last five minutes.

"I was just trying to be active, not thinking," Wear said. "I think I was over thinking when I was in there in the beginning. I was just trying to go to open spots and my teammates were able to look for me. I was just around the rim trying to be active."

5) The Bruins had trouble finishing around the basket

The game easily could have been a blowout victory for the Bruins, but they missed on a number of point-blank shots in the paint. Smith, the 6-10 center, was only 3-for-9 from the field while Lamb and Powell, the team's two most athletic players, were unable to convert on several drives.

Richmond shot blocking specialist Darrius Garrett had five blocks and his presence altered several insode shots causing UCLA to miss some.

"I was just rushing," Smith said. "They did a good job of crowding the ball. I let the shot blocker kind of affect some of the shots I was taking, but I just tried to take it right at him."

Smith was 1-for-5 in the first half, but improved to two of four in the second half. He also made one of his best moves of the season by backing down Garrett in the post then turning and dunking on him. It was the type of aggressive move that has been missing from Smith's game most of the season.

"I got that dunk and it was some relief," Smith said. "I know I have to do that more. As much as I can, I have to try to go to the rim and finish."


UCLA Wears out Richmond

Published: Dec. 23, 2011 Updated: 10:56 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – The Brothers Wear might have played their best game at UCLA on Friday night.

Travis and David Wear, the sophomore forwards out of Mater Dei, combined for 26 points in UCLA's 71-63 victory against Richmond in front of 4,194 at the Sports Arena.

Travis Wear, in his second game back after being hospitalized because of a foot infection, scored 10 of his 14 points in the final five minutes as the Bruins extended their winning streak to five games.

"I thought Travis Wear had his best game as a Bruin, hitting big shots for us around the basket late in the game," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

Said Travis: "I'll get more comfortable and am just trying to get into open shots and be more active around the rim."

David Wear added 12 points, his third game in double figures in the Bruins' past four outings.

"As we're playing more games," David Wear said, "we're getting more comfortable."


UCLA clobbered Richmond in the paint Friday night.

The Bruins outscored the Spiders, 38-10, inside and outrebounded Richmond, 42-30. That dominance inside allowed UCLA to shoot 61.5 percent from the field in the second half.


Spiders guard Darien Brothers finished with a game-high 25 points.

"I felt like, as a team, we could have attacked the zone," Brothers said. "They play a wide zone, so we felt like we could have helped out more by getting some more rebounds."

Richmond was hamstrung by Darrius Garret's foul trouble. The senior forward had nine points, nine blocks and 13 rebounds in a victory over Old Dominion on Tuesday but was held scoreless against the Bruins.


Not all the drama was on the court at the Sports Arena on Friday night.

During a timeout with 11:12 remaining in the game a man made a rather lengthy marriage proposal on his knee over the in-house video feed and public address system.

After an uncomfortable and silent delay the intended fiancee ran from her seat, up the lower level steps and out of the arena.

A few moments later the embarrassed suitor followed her out.

"You could at least lie," UCLA guard Jerime Anderson said. "That's cold. Tough break."

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