By RYAN MENEZES
Published January 28, 2012, 6:25 pm
The Sports Arena, for a day, felt like the home of the Bruins.
The Bruins, for a day, resembled the team that was supposed to be nationally ranked and picked to win the Pac-12.
Colorado, which entered the game tied for first place in the conference, couldn’t handle UCLA’s inside-out style of basketball Saturday afternoon at the Sports Arena.
The Bruins’ 77-60 win was as important a victory as they’ve had all year. It also topped off their rude welcome to the Pac-12’s newcomers. UCLA completed a two-game sweep back at home after a 76-49 stomping of Utah on Thursday.
“I think we built momentum off the Utah game,” sophomore guard Tyler Lamb said. “This game, this is the biggest win for us this year besides Arizona. … As good as my teammates came out here and played, I think we can build from it.”
A rowdy crowd of 9,253 came to watch the Saturday afternoon game, 3,000 more than UCLA’s previous attendance high at the Sports Arena, its home-away-from-home for a season.
The crowd had something to cheer about, and the fans were at their loudest at the end of the first half. Consecutive triples from Lamb and freshman guard Norman Powell just before halftime swiftly turned a two-point deficit into a 40-36 lead going into the locker room.
“I think our players were very enthused by the support of our fans,” coach Ben Howland said. “This was by far the best crowd we’ve had at the Sports Arena this year.”
For as hot as UCLA (12-9, 5-4 Pac-12) was in the first half – shooting 58 percent from the field – the Bruins sustained their play after the break. They disrupted numerous Colorado possessions, forcing six steals and blocking four shots in the second half. Their offense remained impressive, shooting 62 percent to pull away from Colorado (14-7, 6-3).
The lead jumped to 10, and not even a timeout by Howland after a made basket was going to stop the Bruins from letting it get to as much as 19.
It was a far cry from their second half one week ago against Oregon, when they couldn’t sustain their first-half rhythm and quickly blew a 13-point halftime lead.
“Our intensity picked up a little in the second half,” redshirt sophomore forward David Wear said. “There’s been a couple times where our intensity dipped off in the second half. It was good to come up with that much intensity – really talking about our defense and not allowing any second shots.”
Not only did the Bruins not fade in the second half, they were even more efficient. For the second straight game, UCLA shot better after halftime than before.
The Bruins also shot 3-pointers efficiently, going nine-for-13 from distance a game after going nine-of-16. The pair of threes just before halftime gave them six for the first half. UCLA was averaging 5.2 3-pointers per game this season.
Lamb led UCLA with three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points, six assists, seven rebounds and three steals. Howland called it Lamb’s best game in two seasons as a Bruin.
Senior guard Lazeric Jones had 17 points and nine assists, while the Bruins had a season-high 26 assists, on 31 made baskets.
The Bruins looked to their big men in the post early and often, as they have throughout their up-and-down season. But their outside shots were falling when the post wasn’t an option, keeping the Buffaloes on their heels and giving the Bruins all kinds of freedom.
The numbers reflected their complete play; UCLA finished with 32 points in the paint and 27 points off 3-pointers.
“We were just out there playing off the flow,” Lamb said. “We were taking what we were given. When the bigs were open we were hitting them and they were finishing. When they were being pressured we were kicking the ball back out.”
UCLA forward Travis Wear puts up a shot as Colorado's Austin Dufault, left, and Andre Roberson defend during the second half of a game Saturday in Los Angeles. UCLA won, 77-60. Photo MARK J. TERRILL, ASSOCIATED PRESS
By SAM STRONG
Published January 28, 2012, 6:58 pm
In a 77-60 win over Colorado at the Sports Arena, UCLA’s duo of senior point guards looked like senior point guards.
It’s no coincidence that what could have been the Bruins’ best win of the season was paired with 17 assists between Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson. As a team, the Bruins’ 26 assists were the most in a game since 2006 when the likes of Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo were dishing the ball.
With Jones contributing nine and Anderson eight, sophomore Tyler Lamb wasn’t going to be undone and added six of his own. After the game, coach Ben Howland raved about his team’s ability to share the ball.
“I thought we were making the extra pass,” Howland said. “It’s fun to watch. That’s how basketball is meant to be played.”
True to form, Howland wasn’t wholly satisfied.
“We could have had 30 assists but we missed some gimmes,” he said.
He wasn’t the only one. Jones – who has started to take fewer shots over the past two games in favor of finding an open teammate – pored over the stat sheet during the post-game press conference.
“I had four turnovers,” he said when prompted for what stood out to him. “That’s not good at all. Nine assists looked good until I saw four turnovers. I can’t do that. I have to take better care of the ball.”
Nonetheless, UCLA secured another Pac-12 homestand sweep with two blowout wins this weekend. The real challenge will be winning on the road in Washington next weekend as the Bruins have not won a game outside of Southern California all year. The team will have a rare two-day break before returning to practice Tuesday.
Brown shut down
Colorado senior guard Carlon Brown led the Buffs in scoring coming into Saturday’s contest with 13.4 points per game. Howland charged Lamb with the task of guarding Brown and Lamb accepted the challenge as he’s done all season. Brown finished with just six points and Howland was quick to point out that two of those points came while Lamb was on the bench.
“I’ve known (Brown) ever since I was in middle school,” Lamb said of the pair’s Inland Empire upbringing. “I’ve known what he’s capable of. He’s a very good player. I knew I was going to have to stop him.”
Home sweet home
The “home” crowd of 9,253 at the Bruins’ temporary downtown venue was the largest this season. Both Howland and his players credited the crowd for contributing to the win.
“Our fans came out and supported us and we fed off it a little bit,” Jones said. “They helped us today. It was really great.”
The one that got away
Colorado freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie contributed nine points in the loss Saturday. Dinwiddie went to Taft High in Woodland Hills but was not recruited heavily by Howland and his staff, something the ninth-year coach said he regrets.
“He’s going to be a great player,” Howland said. “That was a huge mistake on my part. Watching him, I’m kicking myself. He comes from a great family. You make some mistakes sometimes in recruiting and that was a definite mistake.”
Sophomore guard Tyler Lamb reacts after a UCLA scoring run in the second half. UCLA outscored Colorado 37-24 in the second half. Photo Daily Bruin, Evan Luxenberg
/ THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Published: Jan. 28, 2012 Updated: 9:04 p.m.
LOS ANGELES – UCLA guard Tyler Lamb and Colorado backcourt ace Carlon Brown go way back.
"I've known him since middle school," Lamb said of his former AAU club teammate.
Saturday afternoon, Lamb redefined the term "close friends."
Lamb's smothering defense all but totally shut down Brown, the Buffalos' leading scorer, setting the tone in a convincing 77-60 UCLA victory over Pac-12 co-leader Colorado at the Sports Arena.
Lamb held Brown to one field goal, none in the game's final 26 minutes-plus, and had team-highs in steals (3) and rebounds (7) plus a blocked shot on afternoon in which the Bruins limited Colorado to 34.8 percent shooting from the field in a second half in which UCLA led by 19.
Lamb, the sophomore out of Mater Dei High, was just as impressive on the offensive end, connecting on 3 of 5 shots from behind the 3-point arc on the way to 13 points while also handing out six assists.
"His best game as a Bruin," UCLA coach Ben Howland said of Lamb's performance.
The victory kept UCLA (12-9 overall, 5-4) within two games of the Pac-12 lead at the halfway point of a conference race that so far has failed to produce a front-runner.
"That was a very solid win for us against a very good team," Howland said.
The question now is can UCLA replicate the form it showed against Colorado (14-7, 6-3) and in blowing out Utah 76-49 Thursday night on the road?
UCLA travels to Washington on Thursday and then Washington State on Saturday.
The Bruins have only two road triumphs this season: a 92-60 victory against tiny Chaminade Nov. 21 on Maui and a 66-47 romp Jan. 15 against USC, the only team winless in Pac-12 play. Washington is tied with Cal and Oregon atop the Pac-12 in the loss column, and the Bruins haven't won at Hec Edmundson Pavilion since 2004, and the Huskies are 10-6 in the rivalry since then.
UCLA over the weekend at least addressed an area that proved fatal in losses at Oregon State and Oregon a week earlier: the Bruins failure to put two quality halves together.
The Bruins didn't panic when Colorado jumped to a 9-2 to open the game. UCLA came back with an 18-1 run of its own to take a 26-16 lead on a Norman Powell 3-point jumper and then counter a second Colorado run with 3-point jumpers from Lamb and Powell at the end of the half to take a 40-36 lead into halftime.
"We knew they were a good team, we just needed to stay calm," UCLA's David Wear said. "We knew this was going to be a game of runs and they made their run and then we made our run and we never really looked back after that."
Four Bruins scored in double figures led by guard Lazeric Jones with 17. Travis Wear added 14 points, his twin brother David 11. Bruins point guard Jerime Anderson had eight assists on a day when he, Jones and Lamb combined for 23 assists. UCLA's 26 assists were the most by a Bruins team since 2006.
But more than anything it was Lamb's defensive intensity that stood out Saturday. Brown came into the game averaging 14.1 points per game in Pac-12 play. Saturday through the game's first 13 minutes he had as many turnovers and shot attempts (1).
UCLA's Travis Wear reacts after scoring and drawing a foul during the second half against Colorado. TWear finished with 14 pts, 7 rbds, 1 assist, 2 stls and a block. Photo MARK J. TERRILL, ASSOCIATED PRESS
UCLA spreads work around in 77-60 rout of Colorado
Lazeric Jones, Travis Wear, Tyler Lamb and David Wear all score in double figures, and the Bruins have a season-high 26 assists as UCLA upsets the Buffaloes, who were tied for first in the Pac-12.
By Chris Foster
The Los Angeles Times
6:25 PM PST, January 28, 2012
Those at the Sports Arena can tell the grandkids that they were there the day UCLA upset Colorado … in basketball.
Such is the way the go-figure Pac-12 Conference has played out thus far this season. Colorado entered the game tied for first place. UCLA wandered in seventh, trying to gain some traction.
The 77-60 victory had to restore some order to the college basketball world, at least in the eyes of Bruins fans. This was again UCLA, the school of Alcindor and Walton, against Colorado, school of Meely … Cliff Meely … All-American in 1971?
The Bruins (12-9 overall, 5-4 in conference play) methodically buried the Buffaloes (14-7, 6-3) in the second half, turning a 40-36 halftime lead into a rout with a series of second-half runs.
Lazeric Jones had 17 points, Travis Wear 14, Tyler Lamb 13 and David Wear 11 in a share-the-wealth type performance. The Bruins had a season-high 26 assists.
"That's how basketball is meant to be played," Coach Ben Howland said. "I love it that our players get joy out of making a pass that leads to a play."
When the slicing-and-dicing was done, UCLA had a two-game winning streak to take on the road. The Bruins play Thursday at Washington, where they haven't since 2004, and at Washington State on Saturday.
"Beating a team like this shows we can be in [the race]," Jones said. "If we continue to do that, who knows where we'll end up."
The Bruins play five of the six teams ahead of them in the standings during the second half of conference play.
"Not having to travel to play those teams is a huge bonus for us," David Wear said. "We focused against Colorado. As long as we do that, we can expect the same results against those [other] teams as well."
Colorado, which has won five of its conference games in altitude in Boulder, jumped to a 12-4 lead, then seemed to tire in the thick air.
Lamb and Norman Powell sank back-to-back three-pointers to give UCLA a 40-36 lead at the half. The Bruins made the second half a clinic on both ends.
"Whenever you're getting stops on defense, it's definitely a momentum booster," Lamb said. "It gets everybody up more when you're going down and stopping teams. Then you come down and score and everything starts snowballing."
Lamb was a big part of that roll down hill. He held Carlon Brown — the Buffaloes' leading scorer — to six points, nine below his average.
"I think he scored one basket on Tyler," Howland said. "He did a tremendous, awesome job."
Said Lamb: "I've known [Brown] since I was in middle school. We actually played on the same AAU team a couple times. I know what he is capable of. Coach Howland stressed to me that I was going to have to stop him."
Colorado shot 34.8% in the second half.
On offense, the Bruins were meticulous. Jones had nine assists, Jerime Anderson eight and Lamb six. Colorado came in leading the conference in field-goal percentage defense (38.8%). UCLA shot 59.6% and made nine of 13 three-pointers.
"We're going to enjoy this one," Howland said. "It's nice for our players. It will be 72 hours and 20 minutes before we practice again."
Bruins forward Travis Wear fouls Colorado center Shane Harris-Tunks as he tries to block his shot in the first half Saturday afternoon at the Sports Arena. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / January 28, 2012)
The Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 01/28/2012 10:17:06 PM PSTUpdated: 01/28/2012 11:09:45 PM PST
Sporting sneakers to support the fight against cancer to go along with his suit, Howland was springier than a well-coiled Slinky; still wound just as tight, but ready to let loose.
His players had a little extra bounce, too.
Playing against one of the hottest teams in the conference, it was UCLA that heated up, shooting 59.6 percent in a 77-60 win over Colorado in front of 9,253 at the Sports Arena.
"(Former UCLA head coach and current St. John's head coach Steve Lavin) went to the sneakers and stayed in them the rest of the way last year," Howland said with a smile. "I like it, too. Feels better on my feet."
The Bruins were better off them.
Their feet, that is, as UCLA converted alley-oop after alley-oop, putting on a show for what was certainly the best home crowd of the year at the Sports Arena.
Already up seven but coming off a 3-pointer by Colorado's Nate Tomlinson with just less than 14 minutes remaining, the Bruins went on a 13-3 run, capped off by a Jerime Anderson-to-Travis Wear alley-oop dunk, stretching the lead to 17 with 8 minutes, 44 seconds to play.
"Defensive stops - whenever we're getting stops it definitely is a momentum booster," sophomore guard Tyler Lamb said. "It gets everybody up more and then you come down and score, it all starts snowballing.
We were in the huddle and we were communicating in timeouts, coach Howland was asking us what we thought would work and our senior guards stepped up a lot."
Senior guard Lazeric Jones had a team-high 17 points and nine assists, Anderson added eight points and eight assists and Lamb added 12 points and six assists as UCLA finished with 26 on the afternoon. The sharp passing helped the Bruins erase an early deficit that was plagued by sloppiness.
The Buffaloes (14-7, 6-3 Pac-12) got off to a nice start in their first matchup with UCLA (12-9, 5-4) as a conference opponent, jumping ahead 12-4 as the Bruins committed four quick turnovers. UCLA climbed back, took the lead with 12:27 left and eventually went into halftime up by four, courtesy of a Norman Powell 3-pointer as the first half expired.
What changed so drastically for the Bruins in the second half? They picked up their defensive intensity.
After letting Colorado shoot 56 percent in the first half on 15-of-27 shooting, UCLA held the Buffaloes, who came into the game with nine wins in their past 11, to 34.8 percent shooting in the second half and ran away with it.
"Our intensity picked up a little in the second half," said David Wear, who finished with 13 points. "There've been a couple times where our intensity dipped off in the second half. It was good to come up with that much intensity, really talking about our defense, not allowing any second shots."
Howland credited Lamb with a standout effort as UCLA held Colorado's leading scorer Carlon Brown - who had been averaging 13.6 points per game - to just six points in 31 minutes, with two assists and three of the team's 14 turnovers.
"I really thought Tyler Lamb played great defense on Brown," Howland said. "He's a great player, and Tyler Lamb deserves a lot of credit for how he played. Thirteen points, six assists - I thought this was one of his best games as a Bruin."
Added Lamb: "Carlon Brown, I've known him since I was in middle school - I played on his AAU team a couple times. I've known what he was capable of. He's a very good player. Coach stressed that I would have to stop him and I tried my best."
What had Howland really excited as his Bruins prepare for a tough two-game road set in Washington against the Huskies and Cougars was the team's passing, though.
"We were really, really making the extra pass," Howland said. "It's fun to watch. That's how basketball is supposed to be played. I love that our players get joy out of making that play. The funnest thing on offense is to watch a pass that leads to a wide-open shot. I love that as much as anything."
By Peter Yoon
ESPNLA.com, UCLA Report
January, 28, 2012 5:37 PM PT
Anthony Stover, left, and Travis Wear helped a strong UCLA defense in a victory over Colorado. Photo Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US Presswire
LOS ANGELES -- Some wins mean more than others.
UCLA coach Ben Howland will tell you that every win is equally important, but his body language and enthusiasm said something different after the Bruins defeated Colorado in convincing fashion, 77-60, Saturday in a Pac-12 game at the Sports Arena.
This victory meant more simply because it came against a team that was tied for first in the Pac-12 and it helped erase doubts that UCLA could, in fact, pull out a victory against an upper-tier conference team. UCLA's last three wins had come against conference cellar-dwellers Utah, USC and Arizona State, but the Bruins (12-9, 5-4) stayed afloat in the conference race with the victory over Colorado (14-7, 6-3).
"I was very enthused," Howland said. "I knew this was a big game for us to get us back above .500 in the conference against a good Colorado team that has been playing extremely well. That was a very solid win for us against a very good team."
Five observations from the game:
1The Bruins turned up the defense in the second half
UCLA held a slim, 40-36 halftime lead, but ran away from the Buffaloes in the second half thanks to a defense that held Colorado to 34.8 percent shooting from the field after the break. Colorado had shot 55.6 percent in the first half, but went a stretch of nearly nine minutes midway through the second half with only one field goal as the Bruins took a 69-50 lead with 5:25 to play.
"I think our defensive intensity picked up in the second half which was nice because there’s been a couple of times this year when our defensive intensity has dipped off in the second half," forward David Wear said. "So it was good to come out with that intensity, really talking on defense and getting into our rotations and not allowing any second shots."
The Bruins had 10 steals in the game with six of those coming in the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Bruins set the defensive tone after coming out of the locker room by getting their hands in the passing lanes, making it difficult for Colorado to in-bound the ball and forcing the Buffaloes to use up most of the shot clock.
"We just did a better job buckling down," Howland said.
2UCLA's offense was very efficient
The Bruins were a well-oiled machine on offense, shooting a season-best 59.6 percent from the field for the game and getting 26 assists with only 12 turnovers. And this against the team that entered the game holding opponents to a Pac-12 leading 38.8 percent shooting.
UCLA had four players reach double figures in scoring -- Lazeric Jones with 17, Travis Wear with 14, Tyler Lamb with 13 and David Wear with 11 -- while Jerime Anderson and Joshua Smith each had eight.
The 26 assists were a season high and the most for UCLA since Dec. 31, 2006, against Washington.
"I thought we were really making the extra pass," Howland said. "It was so exciting and fun to watch. That’s how basketball is meant to be played and I love that our players get joy out of making the pass that leads to the play."
It was the second consecutive game that the Bruins set a season best in field goal percentage and the fifth time in six games that the Bruins have shot over 50 percent. They are now shooting 50.4 percent in Pac-12 games -- second in the conference. Over the last seven games, UCLA is shooting 52.5 percent.
"We’re executing better and better as the season progresses," Howland said. "We really went back to work on it after the first road trip in conference."
3Tyler Lamb is officially out of his slump
Lamb had one of the best all-around games of his career with 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals all the while holding Colorado leading scorer Carlon Brown to only six points.
He was 5-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-5 on 3-pointers and is ready to put behind a rough two-week stretch in which he went 4-for-18 against USC, Oregon State and Oregon.
"I thought Tyler Lamb did a tremendous, awesome job today," Howland said. "He had one of his best games as a Bruin because it was an all around game."
Lamb credited his teammates and family for helping him get through his rough stretch.
"My teammates kept it positive," he said. "They just always said keep playing hard, keep shooting. They didn’t lose any trust in me and my family helped me a lot. Everybody played a big role in getting me out of that slump and it’s been great."
Lamb, who had 10 points, four assists and three steals on 4-for-7 shooting Thursday against Utah, said the key was to slow down on the court.
"I think I was rushing," Lamb said. "I can tell when I let the game come to me and I can tell when I’m pressing. I think when I was in the slump, I was looking to press more and hurry up and get myself out of it but as of late I’ve just been letting the game come to me and take what’s given and it’s worked for me."
4Three-point shooting was an effective weapon
The Bruins made 9-of-13 (69.2 percent) of their 3-pointers, many of them coming at key junctures to stop Colorado runs. Lamb and Norman Powell hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give UCLA a 40-36 halftime lead after Colorado had taken a 35-34 lead with 1:36 left in the half.
Colorado made a last-ditch comeback effort and closed a 66-49 UCLA lead to 69-56 with 4:13 to play, but Lamb and David Wear made 3-pointers to seal the UCLA victory.
"I thought we were patient," Jones said. "We made good decisions and that’s basically it. When we're driving and penetrating to pass and to set each other up, things open up a lot."
UCLA is not known as a particularly good 3-point shooting team, so it's surprising to note that the Bruins are leading the Pac-12 in 3-point field goal percentage at 44 percent in conference games. They were shooting only 30 percent when the season began, but have become more efficient.
Against Utah and Colorado, the Bruins were a combined 18 of 29 (62 percent) on three-pointers. Howland credited better shot selection.
"I like our ratio of how many threes we’re taking versus how many shots we’re taking overall," Howland said. "Part of it is we’re not taking as many. We were taking too many early in the season."
5The Sports Arena came alive
For the first time at the Sports Arena, it felt as if UCLA had a home-court advantage. Attendance on Saturday was announced at 9,253 -- a season high even including games at the Honda Center.
Before Saturday, the Sports Arena had felt dull with an average announced attendance of 4,640, but an actual attendance that was far lower than that. When that crowd size doubled Saturday, the building finally had some energy and even got loud at times.
"Our players were very enthused by the support of our fans and the students today," Howland said. "That was nice."
Jones said the crowd played a role in the victory.
"Our fans came out and really supported us," he said. "We fed off of it a little bit. They felt when we were getting runs. They really helped us."