Sunday, January 1, 2012

UCLA is no match for Cal in 85-69 loss

Sophomore guard Tyler Lamb led the Bruins in scoring with a career-high 26 points in UCLA’s 85-69 loss to California on Saturday. Photo: Evan Luxenberg via The Daily Bruin.

UCLA is no match for Cal in 85-69 loss

Bruins are 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 1987-88 season.

By Diane Pucin
The Los Angeles Times
5:05 PM PST, December 31, 2011

Reporting from Berkeley -- Josh Smith curled a perfect pass to David Wear, a planned play to start the second half of a Pac-12 Conference basketball game between UCLA and California on Saturday at Haas Pavilion.

Wear was unaware and ham-handed, though. A Cal guard poked at the ball and it fell out of bounds. Instead of a layup that would have given them the lead, the Bruins had a turnover and soon the Golden Bears were in the midst of a rout.

Cal beat UCLA, 85-69, and for the first time since the 1987-88 season — when Walt Hazzard was coaching his final season in Westwood — the Bruins (7-7) have started conference play with two losses.

Those Bruins lost three consecutive games to begin league play but recovered, finishing 12-6 and tied for second in the Pacific 10.

After Wear's fumble, Justin Cobbs, a sophomore guard from Los Angeles, made a three-point shot, the start of a 10-0 run that put Cal up, 50-39.

With 10 minutes left, California was up, 64-45, and for Bruins fans the only positive was Tyler Lamb scoring a career-high 26 points. Otherwise the Bruins were lifeless, on the court and on the bench.

"Cal just scored too easily," Coach Ben Howland said. "Whether it was against our man or our zone, they just scored so easily."

The Golden Bears shot 65.4% from the field and had 28 assists on 34 baskets, a sign that the Bruins couldn't disrupt Cal's rhythm. Six Golden Bears scored in double figures, led by Allen Crabbe's 20 points.

Coach Mike Montgomery said his team was comfortable all game.

"You don't have that all the time," he said. "It was fun to watch."

While Cal (12-3, 2-0 in Pac-12) was making its early second-half run, UCLA committed two turnovers, had a missed layup from Smith and a badly conceived three-point try from Lamb that resulted in a long Cal rebound and a Crabbe layup.

But it was mostly his team's defense that had Howland rubbing his tired eyes.

"They just continued to score time after time after time," he said. "We were just slow."

Lamb, among all the Bruins, seemed the most discouraged.

"Cal played good," the sophomore guard said, "but we've got to come out here and play way better than that. Way better."

As to why the Bruins defense was so bad, Lamb said he wished he knew.

"Then it would be easy to fix," he said.

To find the team already down in the conference, he said, was also hard to take.

"Coming back, it's going to be very hard but it has to be done," he said. "I'm pretty sure everybody in that locker room wants to turn the season around. From this point every game is a must-win game."

Wear, who had a career-high 17 points, said the bad defense is fixable.

"We had some breakdowns, overextended on stuff but it's like the start of the season. We just have to come together," he said.

The Bruins started the season 0-2 and were 2-5 before winning five games in a row. Now it's back to a losing streak.

"Nobody here is happy right now at all," Lamb said.

New Year's Eve plans for the Bruins?

"Everybody will be in his room asleep or watching film," Lamb said.


Men's basketball falls to Cal, 85-69

The Daily Bruin in Men's Basketball Sports
Published December 31, 2011, 8:30 pm

BERKELEY — UCLA men’s basketball coach Ben Howland threw a man-to-man defense at California, a zone defense, a mix of the two and stopped just short of throwing the kitchen sink.

Nothing worked in the Golden Bears’ 85-69 blowout win Saturday at Haas Pavilion. The loss gave the preseason conference favorite Bruins (7-7, 0-2 Pac-12) their first two-loss start in conference play since the 1987-1988 season and put a damper on celebrating the new year.

“Everybody will be in their room asleep or watching film (tonight),” sophomore guard Tyler Lamb said.

UCLA was once again within one point at halftime, just as it was against Stanford two days earlier. That in itself was a small victory, as Cal (12-3, 2-0) had shot a scorching 68 percent from the field.

It was no surprise that the Bears continued their hot shooting in the second half. Five quick points forced a Howland timeout less than two minutes into the half. Coming out of the huddle, the Bruins immediately turned the ball over and the Bears rolled off five more unanswered.

“To be that close (at the half) we were fortunate,” redshirt sophomore forward David Wear said. “We knew coming out in the second half that we needed to really lock down on defense and focus. We just had some breakdowns and it was tough.”

Even tougher to figure out was omnipresent Bears guard Jorge Gutierrez.

In his only game against UCLA last season, the senior from Mexico had torn up the Bruins for 34 points at Haas Pavilion. The 6-foot-3 all-Pac-10 first-teamer from a season ago did more of the same Saturday, scoring 16 points while darting inside the paint, undaunted by UCLA’s massive front line. Gutierrez also had eight assists and two steals.

“He does what it takes to win,” said Lamb, who at times matched up with Gutierrez on both ends of the floor. “He doesn’t focus just on scoring. He’s going to go out there and play defense, get assists and steals, and he’s just an all-around team player.”

With senior guard Lazeric Jones coming off a career-high 26 points at Stanford on Thursday, Gutierrez was tabbed to stop the Bruins’ leading scorer. Jones shot just one-of-five from the field in the first half before leaving with an injured left ankle, the same one he hurt in practice early in the week.

Cal coach Mike Montgomery felt that Gutierrez neutralizing Jones was the key to the Bears’ defensive effort.

“Jorge sets the tone,” Montgomery said. “If he’s able to take the head of the snake out, it makes it difficult if they’re counting on a certain person to be a significant factor.”

Jones, who had five points on two-of-seven shooting, six assists and four turnovers, saw it a differently.

“He’s a good defender, but I didn’t want to force any shots,” Jones said. “You know when teams are scheming to stop you, and I didn’t want to force shots.”

Jones said he was comfortable deferring to the hot hand on the night, which was Lamb. Lamb had a career-night of his own, hitting his first five shots and finishing with 26 points, including five-of-seven 3-point shooting.

David Wear also set a career-high with 17 points. No other Bruin had more than eight.

UCLA kept up with Cal’s offensive firepower for a half but couldn’t sustain it for another 20 minutes. The Bears continued to hit shots, and the Bruins gave up their second-highest field-goal percentage of the season while the lead grew to as many as 24 points.

UCLA’s defense was its undoing no matter what scheme it was in, a problem that will have to be rectified before another top conference foe in Arizona comes to the Honda Center on Thursday.

“Whether it was man or zone, (the Bears) were pretty consistent,” Howland said. “They really executed and shot it well. … Our defense, it was the problem all day. (The Bears) just continued to score time after time.”


Cal sends UCLA home winless in Pac-12

BY DAMIN ESPER / Special to the OC Register
Published: Dec. 31, 2011 Updated: 10:00 p.m.

BERKELEY – UCLA guard Tyler Lamb finished his postgame media session and headed down the hall beneath the floor at Haas Pavilion. When Lamb got to the end of the hall, having gone the wrong way, teammate Lazeric Jones asked Lamb if he was trying to find his way back upstairs.

The Bruins are trying to find their way back, too. UCLA lost on Saturday to Cal, 85-69. The Bruins, preseason favorites to win the Pac-12, return home from a lost weekend in the Bay Area sporting an 0-2 record in conference play.

The Golden Bears used a 10-0 run to open the second half to blow open the game. Allen Crabbe had the dagger, fielding a long rebound and burying a long 3-pointer to make it 50-39 just 2:23 into the second half. UCLA (7-7) never recovered.

The reasons were many. Outside of Tyler Lamb and David Wear (43 points combined), the Bruins couldn't shoot. The rest of the team made just 11 of 31 shots (35 percent). Cal had a staggering 28 assists on 34 field goals. The Bears shot 65 percent (34 of 52) for the game. They had six players in double-figures.

You could tell how the day was going just by looking at the coaches. Cal coach Mike Montgomery spent most of the afternoon sitting on the bench, right leg crossed over left. UCLA coach Ben Howland was standing from the opening tip, wearing a pained expression.

"They scored too easily today," Howland said. "Whether it was man or zone, they were just scoring so easily. We were slow."

Said Lamb: "We weren't there at all defensively. I don't know (why). I wish I did know. If I knew, it would be easy to fix. We've definitely got to try to figure it out."

They have five days to figure it out. Arizona comes to the Honda Center on Thursday.

Lamb and Wear were the only bright spots. Each set a career high – Lamb with 26 points, Wear with 17.

Meantime, the Golden Bears (12-4, 2-0) had balance. Crabbe led the way with 20 points and six assists while Jorge Gutierrez added 16 points and eight assists. Justin Cobbs had 13 points and eight assists.

"I think we did a great job tonight executing," Cobbs said. "We cut off the bigs, ran our motion offense and came off picks. If they came out high, we just hit the man down low."

The defensive lapses would figure to be an aberration, given Howland's history. The 0-2 start might be something more. It's the first time UCLA is 0-2 in conference play since 1987-88. They haven't been 0-4 to start conference since 1945-46 under Wilbur Johns.

Said Lamb: "It's going to be very hard. But it's something that has to be done if we want to turn the season around. I'm pretty sure everybody in that locker room wants to turn the season around. So we're going to have to do what it takes."


UCLA BASKETBALL: Bruins leave Bay Area deflated after defeat to Cal

By Gideon Rubin Special to the Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 12/31/2011 08:50:05 PM PST
Updated: 12/31/2011 09:21:45 PM PST

BERKELEY- A trip that started with lofty expectations and whispers of a chance at maybe even cracking the national rankings ended with a giant thud.

UCLA was riding a five-game winning streak and a consensus favorite to win the Pac-12 going into a conference opening two-game Bay Area excursion.

But talk of conference championships turned to talk of every game being a must-win after the Bruins experienced an 85-69 throttling at the hands of California on Saturday in front of 9,750 at Haas Pavilion.

The Bruins (7-7, 0-2), who were coming off a heartbreaking 60-59 loss to Stanford on Thursday, are off to their worst conference start since the 1987-88 season, when they lost their first three before going on to finish second with a 12-6 conference record.

On the positive side, Tyler Lamb scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Bruins, and David Wear added 17, also a career-high.

But Saturday's loss was UCLA's most lopsided to California since a 92-63 defeat Feb. 1, 2001, at Berkeley.

The really bad news from a UCLA standpoint was a failure to execute, especially defensively.

Cal (12-3, 2-0) shot 65.4 percent from the field.

"It's really our defense that was the problem all day," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "They just continued to score time after time after time."

Somehow, the Bruins managed to keep it close in the early going, trailing just 40-39 going into the intermission, as they matched California's scoring despite shooting just 43.3 percent in the first half.

"The first half we played pretty well offensively to keep it to a one-point game, but when you keep letting a team score every time they have the ball, eventually you're digging a hole for yourself," Howland said.

The Bruins dug a hole they couldn't climb out of to start the second half, which the Golden Bears opened with a decisive 10-0 run.

That sequence seemed to suck the life out of a UCLA team that has shown a lot more resiliency all season, especially Thursday against Stanford.

"They made shots, they made big plays, and if you don't respond to that you can get rolled over a little bit," UCLA guard Lazeric Jones said.

Allan Crabbe, who was among six Cal players to reach double figures in scoring, led the Golden Bears with 20 points - including 12 in a second half in which the Bruins were outscored 45-30. Jorge Gutierrez added 16 points.

"They knocked down open shots and they knocked down tough shots," Lamb said.

Howland tried switching defenses in the second half, but nothing seemed to slow California.

"Whether it was man or zone, they scored so easily," he said.

Lamb shrugged his shoulders when asked if he had any answers for the Bruins' defensive woes.

"I don't know," he said. "I wish I did know because then it'd be easier to fix, but we're going to have to figure it out."

The Bruins have to figure it out quick, too.

They play Arizona and Arizona State on Thursday and Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim without much margin for error if they have any hope of staying in the title chase.

"It's tough because we had a chance to win our first game (against Stanford) on the road and we knew this game would be tough, the second game with less preparation time, and playing them on their own floor, where they're obviously very good," Howland said. "Now we've got to bounce back."

Howland said despite some poor execution, Saturday's loss wasn't all on the Bruins.

"I think Cal's a really good team, too," he said. "They're the team I picked to win (the Pac-12) going into (conference play) and they played like it today."

Jones aggravated an ankle injury late in the first half but stayed in the rest of the way, saying he never considered sitting out the second half.


Rapid Reaction: California 85, UCLA 69

By Peter Yoon, UCLA Report
December, 31, 2011 4:35 PM PT

BERKELEY, Calif. -- UCLA was within a point at halftime, but couldn't stay with California and lost, 85-69, Saturday at Haas Pavilion.

Overview: UCLA had major breakdowns defensively and allowed Cal to shoot 65.4 percent from the field. The Bruins shifted back and forth between man and zone, but it mattered little as Cal kept finding holes and getting wide open shots.

It was the second-highest shooting percentage against UCLA this season, behind only the 71.4 Middle Tennessee shot on Nov. 15.

And the Golden Bears didn't discriminate. They had six players score in double figures, finding scoring opportunities all over the court. Allen Crabbe led the way with 20 points, including four of seven on three-pointers, while post players Harper Kamp, David Kravish and Robert Thurman combined for 34 points -- many coming by way of the dunk.

Turning point: The Bruins trailed only 40-39 at halftime, but Cal went on a 10-0 run to start the second half and took control of the game as UCLA never got to within single digits after that.

Crabbe had a three-pointer and a fastbreak layup during that run while Justin Cobbs also had a three pointer. The Golden Bears extended the lead to as many as 24 points with 4:50 to play.

UCLA star of the game: Tyler Lamb had a career-high 26 points and tried to keep the Bruins in the game. He also did an admirable job defending all-conference guard Jorge Gutierrez when UCLA was in a man defense Gutierrez, who scored 34 against UCLA last year, had 16 points on five of 10 shooting. David Wear also had a career-high with 17 points, but the rest of the Bruins combined for 36 points on 11 of 31 shooting.

Stat of the game: California's 65.4 percent shooting marks the third time this season UCLA has allowed an opponent to shoot better than 60 percent and the fifth time a UCLA opponent shot higher than 50 percent. Of the California players who took more than two shots, only Gutierrez (five of 10) shot less than 60 percent.

"Today we didn’t get anything done defensively," coach Ben Howland said. "The first half we played pretty well offensively to keep it to a one-point game. But when you keep letting a team score almost every time they get the ball, eventually you’re digging a hole for yourself so our defense really let us down today."

What it means: The Bruins opened Pac-12 play 0-2 for the first time since 1987-88. The Bruins actually started 0-3 in conference that year, but recovered to finish 12-6 and tied for second in the conference but did not make the NCAA tournament. Coach Walt Hazzard was fired after that season.

The Bruins continue a tough opening stretch against Arizona Thursday at the Honda Center in a game the Bruins almost certainly have to win if they are going to get the season turned around and make a run at an NCAA tournament berth.

Click on boxscore to enlarge

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