Five observations: Texas 69, UCLA 59
By Blair Angulo
ESPN Los Angeles, UCLA Report
Dec 3 2011 6:04 PM PT
The lights went out at the L.A. Sports Arena, and then on UCLA.
The Bruins led Texas by 11 points when an electrical surge caused a 15-minute delay at the arena, but they never regained their spark when the lights returned, losing 69-59 Saturday afternoon. A season-best attendance of 6,177 saw UCLA fall to 2-5.
Five observations from the game:
1) The Bruins didn't make defensive adjustments
The following stat is not for the faint of heart: Texas shot nearly 71 percent from the field in the second half, capitalizing on transition opportunities and blown assignments. The Bruins were always a few steps behind and appeared winded late.
The latest collapse had UCLA coach Ben Howland revisiting the possibility of mixing in a zone scheme.
"They did a nice job of running their stuff in the second half," Howland said. "They tore us apart."
"We started running," said Texas guard J'Covan Brown, who scored a game-high 22 points, "and running with a purpose."
2) Reeves Nelson needs to see the floor
The demands grew louder as the minutes flew by in the second half.
"Put in Reeves Nelson," yelled a fan seated near the UCLA bench.
"We want Reeves," screamed another nearby.
Howland said he decided at halftime that he would not play Nelson for the rest of the game due to a mental lapse that led to an easy Texas dunk late in the first half. Nelson played 12 minutes, did not score and committed both of UCLA's first-half turnovers.
"He was out of it and I thought he got fatigued again," Howland said. "He didn't play like he is capable."
And when Nelson meets his capabilities, the Bruins are a different group.
"It's the coach's decision," Lazeric Jones said. "I fully stand behind the coach with whatever decision he makes. I'm sure that Reeves will get everything together. I don't doubt him at all."
3) UCLA is capable of fast starts
The Bruins sank their first six shots and jumped out to a 17-6 lead, earning a pair of standing ovations from the tormented fans. They were aggressive in transition and marksmen from the perimeter, with Jones, Tyler Lamb and Jerime Anderson hitting jumpers.
But with UCLA leading 30-19 and 3:59 remaining in the first half, the floor was engulfed by darkness.
"We had a chance to regroup," Texas guard Mych Kabongo admitted. "Thank God for the lights going out."
4) Physical presence needed inside
With Nelson benched and center Joshua Smith continuing to deal with conditioning issues, interior players David Wear and Travis Wear will have to shoulder a heavier load.
Of the 25 possible defensive rebounds, UCLA pulled down only 13.
Nelson and Smith each played 12 minutes and each had three boards. Travis Wear had four in 30 minutes.
5) Lazeric Jones might be UCLA's best chance at scoring
It could have been uglier for UCLA if not for a handful of Jones jump shots.
The senior point guard kept the Bruins within striking distance by hitting a 3-pointer to pull them within four with just over eight minutes remaining, and sank another less than a minute later to cut the deficit to three. But the Longhorns got three quick buckets to pull away and send fans to the exits with two minutes left.
Jones scored a season-high 21 points.