/ THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Published: Feb. 7, 2012 Updated: 10:37 p.m.
UCLA's poor foul shooting has been a reoccurring theme in a season in which the Bruins (13-10, 6-5 Pac-12) have gone from being the preseason Pac-12 favorites to struggling to break into the conference standings' top four spots and avoid having to play a fourth game in the conference tournament next month:
•UCLA shot 47.6 percent, 12.5 in the first half, in a 75-68 loss at Oregon on Jan. 21 in which the Bruins blew a 15-point first-half lead.
•The Bruins were 10 for 20 in a 69-59 loss to Texas on Dec. 3.
•The Bruins hit on only 59.1 percent of their shots in a 76-49 victory against Utah on Jan. 28.
•UCLA was 9 for 17 from the foul line (52.9 percent) in a 75-48 victory against Arizona State on Jan. 12.
"It's frustrating when we get in games and we're shooting 50 percent in some games," Wear said. "So yeah, it's frustrating going into games where we can't knock down our free throws."
Coach Ben Howland has been baffled by the shooting of guards Lazeric Jones and Tyler Lamb.
Jones missed two of three free throws in the final 30 seconds of UCLA's 63-60 victory at Washington State on Saturday. He is shooting 65.7 percent from the foul line in conference games after hitting 81 percent of his free throws in 2010-11.
"He's a much better foul shooter than what he's shot in conference," Howland said.
Howland has spent time with Jones in recent days working on his foul-line routine.
"So I expect (more of) Zeke now," Howland said. "We just tweaked his routine. I expect him to be over 80 percent for sure, the rest of the way. He's too good of a shooter to be shooting in the 60s."
Lamb is shooting 61.9 percent from the line in Pac-12 play. A year ago, the sophomore out of Mater Dei connected on 70.8 percent of his free throws.
"Tyler Lamb should be shooting better than 61 percent," Howland said. "So we've just got to spend time at it."
UCLA's problems at the foul line are all the more frustrating to Howland given the Bruins are leading the Pac-12 in 3-point field goal percentage (42.2) in conference games.
The Bruins have also taken the third fewest 3-point attempts in league play (57), behind only Cal (47) and USC (39).
Howland was asked if he wanted the Bruins to put up more 3-pointers.
"No. That's why we're leading the conference," he said referring to the number of attempts.
Forward Travis Wear was able to shoot but not practice Monday because of a high ankle sprain and remains day-to-day this week.