Monday, February 28, 2011

As Reeves Nelson goes, so goes UCLA

posted by amadbruin on Bruin Zone

Reeves Nelson had a career-high 27 points in UCLA's upset of No. 10 Arizona on Saturday. Photo from BYU game.

Good Reeves Nelson great for UCLA. Forward proves against No. 10 Arizona that as he goes, so go the Bruins

By Peter Yoon
Updated: February 27, 2011, 2:09 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- As Reeves Nelson goes, so goes UCLA.

He's the emotional leader for the Bruins, an intense, tattooed human barometer whose energy level dictates that of the rest of the team.

He's the team's resident drill sergeant, constantly barking at teammates and even coaches during games.

When Nelson pays hard, the Bruins follow suit. When Nelson plays well, UCLA wins more often than not. When Nelson has energy, it fires up the team.

So it's no surprise UCLA played its most complete game of the season when Nelson played his.

The Bruins thumped No. 10 Arizona 71-49 in the final men's basketball game at Pauley Pavilion before the facility is shut down for a year-long renovation project.

Nelson played the part of bulldozer, razing the Wildcats for a career-high 27 points and adding 16 rebounds -- one short of his career high -- as the Bruins (21-8, 12-4) forged a tie with the Wildcats (23-6, 12-4) for first place in the Pac-10.

But the numbers on Nelson's stat line pale in comparison to the job he did defensively after begging for the opportunity to guard Arizona forward Derrick Williams, a leading contender for Pac-10 player of the year and a projected first-round NBA selection.

So while John Wooden's great-grandson brought UCLA coach Ben Howland to tears by making the final basket in Wooden's old stomping grounds, Nelson brought the Wildcats to their knees with a virtuoso performance that will probably get lost in the hoopla of the circumstances but will probably lift UCLA into the national rankings for the first time in nearly two years.

"Reeves Nelson had the game of his career to this point," Howland said. "This is by far our best game of the year. This was the best 40 minutes."

It's a fine line Nelson walks, sometimes bringing the team down when his mercurial persona falls into a lull, and other times injecting a surge of energy. Some say there are two sides to Nelson: Good Reeves and Bad Reeves.

Bad Reeves occasionally drags the team down by sulking when things aren't going his way. He sometimes triggers defensive lapses when he forgets to hustle back after making a turnover. Sometimes he doesn't make the effort to block out if he's still caught up in a foul call that didn't go his way.

Good Reeves showed up Saturday, hustling for loose balls, fighting for rebounds battling inside and making strong moves from all around the basket. But his defensive performance turned this into Really Good Reeves.

Williams torched UCLA last month in Tucson, scoring 22 points and delivering several highlight-reel worthy dunks. Nelson asked Howland earlier this week for the assignment, but Howland had Anthony Stover and Joshua Smith on Williams to start the game.

Williams appeared to be on pace for another huge game with 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting with 5:22 left in the first half. That's when Nelson got in Howland's ear.

"I remember Reeves saying, 'I want him, Coach. Don't take me out when he's in the game,'" Smith said. "'When he's out of the game, you can take me out.'"

Nelson remembered it this way: "I went right up to Coach and said, 'I'm going to guard him the rest of the game no matter what,'" he said. "It was a strong request."

Williams had only two points on 1-for-4 shooting the rest of the way. And Nelson wasn't hacking Williams to keep him at bay. Williams, the nation's leader in free throw attempts, did not get to the foul line while Nelson was guarding him.

"I know he's a really great player and he's going to play basketball for a long time for a lot of money," Nelson said. "I just tried to do my best to make it difficult for him. I knew if we did a good job on him, we'd have a good chance of winning the game."

Sometimes Nelson rubs people the wrong way. He can be brash and even downright rude, with little filter for saying what's on his mind.

Saturday, for instance, he called out a reporter for intimating that he was a weak defensive player.

"I've been told that some people say I can't play defense really, so I just take that very personally," he said. "If Derrick Williams is a top-five pick in the NBA and I hold him to two points in the second half, I think I'm proud of my own effort."

Stover acknowledged Nelson can sometimes go over the top, but said he's also misunderstood.

"He's a really emotional person and it comes out the wrong way sometimes, but he always means the best," Stover said "He breathes on everyone the hardest because he's driven to win and he pushes us to do that."

Forward Tyler Honeycutt, however, said Nelson has made great strides toward keeping his emotions in check.

"He's stronger mentally," Honeycutt said. "He's not letting little stuff get to him. He's improved as a player as well as person -- being patient, being able to listen and being coachable."

Nelson embraces the role of emotional leader. He relishes the idea that he can inspire the team when it needs inspiration and that he can energize the team when it hits lulls. But he realizes things can go the other way, too.

"I try my best not to let my emotions get the best out of me positive or negative," Nelson said. "I'm still working on that as well and that's probably the most difficult part of my game."

After Saturday's game, Nelson regained the team lead in scoring with 14 points a game and he also leads the team in rebounding with nine a game. It's no surprise that some of Nelson's lowest scoring games of the season -- five points against Kansas and Montana and seven against California -- resulted in Bruins losses, because as Nelson goes, so goes UCLA.

But it's his perch as the team's emotional leader that has as much influence on how UCLA plays as any statistics he puts up.

"We feed off of each other so as soon as his emotion is up to his peak, we have to play with him," Stover said. "We have to play as a team and we all played to Reeves' level tonight."

On Saturday, that level was pretty high.

Peter Yoon covers UCLA for

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bruins become emotional after John Wooden's great-grandson scores final basket in final home game before Pauley's renovation

Post updated Feb 28 2011 7:04 am

Tyler Trapani, the great-grandson of the late Coach John Wooden scores the final basket of Saturday’s game,"...a timeless close to Pauley Pavilion’s First Age. (Ryan Eshoff, The Daily Bruin)"

Video posted Feb 265:13PM PT By Blair Angulo on UCLA Report ESPN Los Angeles

from kyleimp on You Tube


Bruins become emotional after John Wooden's great-grandson scores final basket in final home game before Pauley's renovation

The Daily Bruin
Published February 26, 2011 in Men's Basketball Sports
Updated: 9 hours ago

A 22-point blowout win over one of the nation’s top teams, a move into a tie for first place in the Pac-10 Conference, and Reeves Nelson’s best game of his UCLA career … all outshined by one meaningless basket.

Well, meaningless as far as the game goes.

Because for the UCLA men’s basketball program, that basket meant the world.

The Bruins defeated the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats on Saturday afternoon by a score of 71-49, but it was points 70 and 71 that may be remembered in Bruin lore forever.

“I got some tears in my eyes because, thinking about Coach, it was so fitting that Tyler Trapani, John Wooden’s great-grandson, made the last shot in the history of this building,” said UCLA coach Ben Howland after the game, pausing to fight back tears.

Saturday represented the last game in Pauley Pavilion, which for more than 46 years has remained in the same state as when it opened and the famed Wooden was head coach. Pauley will be undergoing renovations and will not reopen until the 2012 season.

So undoubtedly, there was a buzz going through the arena during the blowout victory, one surrounding the win and one surrounding the need for a special moment, which came full force in the final ticks of the clock.

With 47 seconds left to play and the Bruins leading 69-48, Howland called a timeout in order to substitute Trapani, along with four other Bruins who rarely see playing time, into the game.

On the next play after the timeout, UCLA freshman guard Jack Haley popped out to the wing for a wide-open 3-pointer that came up short but landed square in the hands of Trapani under the basket. The junior guard calmly put the rebound up and in and sent the UCLA crowd and bench into hysteria.

And after the game, Trapani’s shot effectively sent his coach to tears.

“I pray a lot, and to have Trapani make that last shot means so much to me, you have no idea,” said an emotional Howland. “And I know it does to his family and all those former players. What a cool way to have the last basket ever. This was just a great day for us, and to finish like that really is special.”

In attendance Saturday afternoon, making the day even more special, was the 1971 UCLA men’s basketball team, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their national title, which was UCLA’s fifth in a row and Wooden’s seventh overall.

And in honor of the ’71 Bruins, Howland and his troops broke out the retro UCLA jerseys.

“It was cool today to wear the retro jerseys with the ‘Bruins’ on the front,” Howland said. “I hope the ’71 team enjoyed that.”

As for Trapani and his teammates, it seemed to have taken awhile for the magnitude of that final basket to actually set in. But after seeing just how emotional Howland was after the game, they quickly realized that Bruin history had been made.

“I didn’t notice at first, but then he just started kind of breaking down and crying,” sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt said. “He explained why, and then everybody thought about it. This is a big honor for (Trapani) to make that last shot.”

“For me, I’m still kind of baffled at what just happened,” Trapani said. “I usually really don’t get in, and it’s just an honor for me to be here and be on the team. It’s more about being here to get an education and going on in life, but right now … I pretty much feel like my great-grandpa basically put me in the position to have a spot to just catch the ball and put it back up. I’m so grateful for that, and I’m so grateful for being here.”

It has been a little more than eight months since Wooden’s passing in June, but Howland, along with Trapani, both reiterated that they are confident of Wooden’s presence in every aspect of their lives, especially on the basketball court.

“It would have been beautiful for him to be here today, but I think he was here in spirit,” Howland said.


John Wooden gets the last laugh

In Pauley finale, Coach's great-grandson makes final basket for UCLA in fitting sendoff

By Ramona Shelburne
Updated: February 27, 2011, 2:09 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- They'd all said their goodbyes to John Wooden in their own way, months ago.

At the hospital, before he died in June at 99.

At his memorial service, a few weeks later.

In their quiet prayers, alone with their thoughts and memories of the legendary coach.

Saturday felt like another moment for those who knew and loved Wooden to reflect and remember, another goodbye, as UCLA played its last men's basketball game in the house he'd done so much to build.

Instead, it just might've been a "Hello."

You had to see it to believe it. You had to be here to really feel it. Then you had to laugh at the old coach with one last mischievous grin for all of us.

Right at the end of the game, as the last 25 seconds ticked off the clock in UCLA's 71-49 upset win over No. 10 Arizona, something happened that I'm not sure anyone in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday afternoon will ever be able to explain.

Tyler Trapani, Wooden's great-grandson who walked onto the team three years ago, was lingering, completely unguarded, on the far side of the court.

The walk-ons were in. The sellout crowd was on its feet, cheering UCLA's most impressive game of the season.

The old-time wooden bleachers around the court swayed under the rumble of thousands of feet. Coach Ben Howland cracked a smile on the sideline.

Just as the roar of the crowd crested, Jack Haley Jr. shot the ball from the corner. Trapani broke for the basket, anticipating a rebound. Not one Arizona player noticed him.

The shot was short. Way short. The ball landed perfectly in Trapani's hands.

"I didn't think about it at all," he said. "When I got the ball, it was just instinct to put it back up there."

And just like that, Wooden's great-grandson scored the last basket at Pauley Pavilion.

"I'm still just baffled at what happened," Trapani said. "I really don't get to get in [the games] very often.

"So right now I really just feel like my great-grandpa put me in that position to just catch the ball and put it back up and in."

You had to laugh.

You couldn't help but cry.

While everyone else was saying another goodbye, Wooden said hello.

"Something's going on there," an emotional Howland said after the game. "I really believe that."

Pauley will look about the same when it re-opens in September 2012. It'll be newer. The paint will be fresher. The old wooden bleachers will be gone.

This will always be Nell & John Wooden Court.

But old houses lose a little something when they are updated. The sweat of five decades of games bakes into a place. Even its flaws become memorable.

"I can say this now," Howland said. "But the floor here is so hard. I'm not going to miss the floor for our players' sake.

"What I'll miss is the fact that this current state is how it was for Coach."

Howland paused for a few seconds at the mention of Wooden. His throat was obviously choked by emotion. His heart was full. He smiled to keep from crying.

There are a lot of coaches who would cower at the idea of forever coaching in Wooden's shadow. This program will always belong to him.

But Howland has always been awed by the opportunity and honored to be the latest caretaker of what Wooden built.

"I pray a lot," he said, clasping his hands together and choking back emotion once again. "And ... to have Trapani make that last shot ...

"It means so much to me, you have no idea. You couldn't have written it any better."

UCLA had the ball one last time before the clock on Pauley Pavilion ran out. The symbolism of Trapani's final basket was beginning to sink in.

Up in the stands, Trapani's mother, Cathleen, smiled.

"I think Papa helped him with that one," she said.

Howland walked off the court as he always does. Quickly and with purpose.

His players lingered, dancing in the middle of the court with the kind of joy reserved for only the biggest wins, then rushing over to a jubilant student section.

Tyler Honeycutt threw his head back and yelled. Reeves Nelson bounced around, hugging anyone in sight. Jerime Anderson waved both his hands in the air, imploring the crowd to keep cheering.

It was UCLA's biggest win of the season. It was Trapani's finest moment, and Pauley Pavilion's last great dance.

But it was Wooden who had the last laugh.

Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for

Follow Ramona Shelburne on Twitter: @ramonashelburne

Men's basketball has huge win over Arizona in final home game before Pauley's renovation

Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson had a career high of 27 points in Saturday’s game against Arizona. Morgan Glier Daily Bruin

Men's basketball has huge win over Arizona in final home game before Pauley's renovation

The Daily Bruin
Published February 26, 2011 in Men's Basketball Sports
Updated: 9 hours ago

When the great-grandson of John Wooden scored the final basket of Saturday’s game, it wasn’t just a timeless close to Pauley Pavilion’s First Age.

It was an exclamation point on a landmark victory for the Bruins.

Tyler Trapani’s lay-in in the final minute capped UCLA’s 71-49 victory over Arizona, a win that closed the book on an old gymnasium but opened up a whole new level of opportunity for the current Bruins.

Renovation hasn’t yet begun on legendary Pauley Pavilion. But in its final home game at the current edition of the arena, UCLA got the paint job started a little ahead of schedule.

In one of its biggest regular season games of the last few seasons, the Bruins played, well, big. Huge, even. Their frontline dominated the paint the entire contest and pummeled Arizona in front of a raucous home crowd.

“We knew this game was going to be a big challenge on a lot of levels, and we knew how important it was,” sophomore forward Reeves Nelson said. “In my opinion, we met that challenge.”

It’d be difficult to disagree. The win vaults the Bruins (21-8, 12-4 Pac-10) into a first-place tie with the Wildcats (23-6, 12-4) atop the conference with just two games to go.

UCLA frontcourt stalwarts Nelson, Tyler Honeycutt and Joshua Smith combined for 59 points, and Nelson grabbed 16 rebounds. The Bruins made just two field goals outside of the key.

“We really got it in, got it in, got it in, and they really went to work,” Howland said of his big three.

UCLA’s aggressive offense and stifling interior defense proved to be too much for the smaller squad from Arizona. The Bruins even got big minutes from redshirt freshman center Anthony Stover, who blocked four shots and was a formidable presence around the rim the entire afternoon.

The forwards also did yeomen’s work on Arizona star Derrick Williams. The sophomore – and likely Pac-10 Player of the Year – scored 15 points, but 13 were in the first half. He was held scoreless through the first 15 minutes of the second as the Bruins extended their 40-30 halftime lead.

Much of that was due to the defense of Nelson, who told Howland after Thursday’s game that he wanted to match up with Williams. Not necessarily known as a defensive specialist, Nelson embraced the challenge.

“If Derrick Williams is a top-five pick in the NBA and I hold him to two points in the second half, I’m proud of my effort,” Nelson said.

UCLA is now 20-0 on the season when it gets a double-digit lead.

“We need to get more 10-point leads,” Howland deadpanned.

Unlike many of their previous contests, the Bruins held onto their lead, and extended it. Arizona cut the deficit to 57-48 on Williams’ only basket of the second half, but UCLA got – what else? – a layup from Smith on the ensuing possession.

The Bruins won going away.

“We’ve had trouble all year putting two halves together,” Honeycutt said. “We made a statement. It also boosts our confidence. It lets us know how good we can be.”

The Wildcats had no answer for the trio of Nelson, Honeycutt and Smith, who outscored Arizona by 10 points themselves. The Wildcats shot just over 31 percent from the field and 21 percent from 3-point land.

“We won the game doing what we want to do, which is playing great defense,” Howland said.

A clinic on interior offensive play didn’t hurt either. Nelson, Honeycutt and Smith not only scored efficiently, but they also effectively shared the wealth with each other. All three players had three assists.

It was fitting, then, for so many reasons, that Trapani’s final bucket came in the paint, where UCLA dominated for 40 minutes Saturday. And it came at the farewell of this edition of Pauley Pavilion, where UCLA dominated for 46 years.

“To have Trapani make that last shot means so much to me, you have no idea,” said Howland, on the verge of tears after the game. “You couldn’t have written it any better.”


UCLA brings the house down by routing Arizona

Bruins say goodbye (for now) to Pauley Pavilion, which will undergo renovations

By Jon Gold Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 02/26/2011 10:21:16 PM PST
Updated: 02/26/2011 10:38:35 PM PST

Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson high-fives fans as he heads to the UCLA locker room after the Bruins’ defeat of No. 10 Arizona in their final home game of the season. Maya Sugarman Daily Bruin

Reeves Nelson walked into a throng of UCLA students a conquering hero, his arms thrown into the air, swallowed whole by the blue hole.

Tyler Trapani - John Wooden's great-grandson - hit a throw-away bucket with the seconds ticking off, making coach Ben Howland break down into tears.

The 1971 UCLA national championship team was honored, introduced by legendary coach Denny Crum.

Oh, and the Bruins just happened to play their most thoroughly dominant game of the season, a 71-49 demolition of Arizona that tied the team atop the Pacific-10 Conference.

Now Pauley Pavilion goes under wraps for a year, renovations sending UCLA on the road, even for home games next year.

What a send-off.

"I told them (on Friday), `This is going to be our best win of the year,' " Howland said. "And it was."

In putting together two complete halves for the first time perhaps all season, the Bruins looked nothing like the team that lost at Arizona by 11 earlier this year.

On that Thursday night in late January, Wildcats forward Derrick Williams had his way, scoring 22 points and generally looking like the Pac-10 Player of the Year favorite.

Nelson remembered that night, and he reminded Howland of it on Thursday, after the Bruins defeated Arizona State, 71-53.

Nelson walked straight up to Howland and demanded - well, "strongly requested," he said - to guard Williams on Saturday in the pivotal matchup.

Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson denies Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams a shot. Morgan Glier-Daily Bruin

Even Nelson, though, full of bravado and tattoos, could not have expected the performance he delivered. In addition to scoring a career-high 27 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, Nelson played full-throttle on Williams, holding the potential top-five NBA draft pick to 15 points, including just two in the second half.

"I've been told that some people say I can't play defense, really," Nelson said. "I just take that very personally. I'm still working on my help-side, but I've always been very confident in my man-to-man defense. If Derrick Williams is a top-five pick in the NBA, and I hold him to two points in the second half, then I'm proud of my own effort."

Nelson was at his best when UCLA needed it most.

After sophomore small forward Tyler Honeycutt threw down a slam dunk for two of his 15 points with just less than nine minutes to play in the first half, Nelson exploded, scoring the team's next seven points in less than two minutes.

Freshman center Joshua Smith took his lead, scoring seven quick points, and the Bruins went from three down to nine up in less than six minutes.

"I can't say enough about Reeves," Howland said. "This was an unbelievably complete game. To have that many rebounds, that many points, and to play that great defense against arguably the best player in the conference?"

UCLA (21-8, 12-4) parlayed the first-half success and a rousing crowd - most of the packed house delivered the "Blue Out" that the marketing department called for - into ruthless efficiency in the second half. The Bruins maintained a double-digit lead for much of the half, and after Arizona (23-6, 12-4) put on a mini-run, cutting the lead from 21to nine with 4:36 left, UCLA closed things out with a 14-1 run the rest of the way.

"We've had trouble all year putting two halves together," Honeycutt said. "I think we made a statement. It boosts our confidence not winning by five. It lets us know how good we can be."

It also reminded quite a few in attendance of how good they once were.

As much as Saturday's game was about the present - and UCLA's present is pretty good, the team having won 18 of 22 games - it was just as much about the past.

The '71 team was serenaded by cheers, Pauley Pavilion erupting for Sidney Wicks and Co., and there were Wooden tributes aplenty.

None more fitting than at the end, when a 3-point attempt by walk-on Jack Haley Jr. dropped ever so softly into Trapani's hands.

Trapani corralled the ball, and mustering as much composure as he could, gently lofted the ball off the glass and into the basket.

The last points in the venerated building, the House that Wooden Built, for more than a year.

"I pray a lot," Howland said, once more breaking into tears. "and to have Trapani make that last shot means so much to me. You have no idea. And I know it does to his family. You couldn't have written it any better.

"This was a great day for us."


Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson battles with Arizona junior guard Brendon Lavender during the first half. Nelson led UCLA with his second consecutive double-double, with a career-high 27 points, and 16 rebounds. Maya Sugarman Daily Bruin

Bruins close Pauley with cheers and tears

UCLA is tied for first place with Arizona after routing Wildcats, 71-49. Reeves Nelson has a career-high 27 points and plays stifling defense on Arizona star.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
7:45 PM PST, February 26, 2011

They lingered on the old court, arms waving and legs leaping and smiles widening.

The celebration was just getting started as the UCLA players raced over to the student section, exchanging high-fives and accepting pats on the back. Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson wrapped a classmate in a bearhug and hoisted him into the air.

Junior guard Lazeric Jones and the Bruins address UCLA fans after their final home game of the season. Maya Sugarman-Daily Bruin

Freshman center Josh Smith connects with Bruin fans after the game. Morgan Glier-Daily Bruin

Former players and coaches gathered at half time to recognize the last UCLA basketball game to be played on the same court that John Wooden held his undefeated record. Wooden’s son James and daughter Nan were present to comemmorate the late UCLA legend. Morgan Glier-Daily Bruin

Bruin fans celebrate from the stands, behind Fox Sports Analyst and former UCLA forward Marques Johnson. Maya Sugarman-Daily Bruin

Saying goodbye had never been so much fun.

In a fitting final tribute to their basketball home of 46 years, UCLA delivered a 71-49 victory over No. 10 Arizona on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion that wasn't so much a showdown as a smackdown, the Bruins holding the Wildcats to their lowest point total of the season.

It was also a tear-jerker of sorts, with UCLA walk-on Tyler Trapani scoring the last basket inside the building where his great-grandfather John Wooden had guided the Bruins to eight of his 10 national championships.

"I'm still kind of baffled at what just happened," said Trapani, who grabbed an airball underneath the basket and banked in a putback with 25 seconds left.

Normally stoic UCLA Coach Ben Howland cried in the locker room afterward and choked up twice when he met with the media, and it wasn't because his Bruins (21-8 overall, 12-4 Pacific 10 Conference) moved into a first-place conference tie alongside the Wildcats (23-6, 12-4) with a week remaining in the regular season.

Howland was moved to tears by the symmetry of Trapani's first career basket in the last game played on Nell & John Wooden Court before it closes for renovations.

"It fell right in his hands," Howland said. "There's something going on there. I really believe that."

Nelson certainly played as if motivated by something divine, his career-high 27 points and 16 rebounds overshadowed by his defense. Nelson held Arizona's Derrick Williams, who had scored 13 points in the first half while being defended by a variety of Bruins big men, to two points after halftime while guarding the star forward exclusively.

"I just took it as a challenge," Nelson said. "I have a tattoo on me that says, 'Tell me I can't. I don't hear you.' "

The Bruins had a sellout crowd of 11,986 rocking when they closed the first half and opened the second on a 22-2 run that transformed a one-point lead into a 51-30 advantage. The Wildcats had one final surge in them, pulling to within 57-48 on Williams' only basket of the second half with 4:36 remaining.

It wasn't nearly enough. A tip-in by freshman center Joshua Smith (17 points) sparked a 14-0 run for UCLA, which held Arizona to 25% shooting in the second half and held a 40-26 rebounding edge overall in its best start-to-finish effort of the season.

"They've become the best defensive team in our conference," Wildcats Coach Sean Miller said.

Nelson hatched his plan to guard Williams on Thursday night, but Howland told Nelson he wanted to start freshman Anthony Stover on the national player-of-the-year candidate and have Smith guard Williams when Jamelle Horne was in the game because Smith would have trouble staying with Horne on the perimeter.

After Williams blistered the Bruins for a few driving layups in the first half, Nelson said he went to Howland and told his coach he was going to guard Williams the rest of the game "no matter what."

Does he usually tell his coach what to do?

"No," Nelson said. "It was a strong request."

In the final minute, Howland was among those on the bench imploring the Bruins to get the ball to Trapani. When Jack Haley spotted up for a three-pointer that fell directly into Trapani's hands, it made for the moment of a lifetime.

"What a cool way to have the last basket ever," Howland said. "I mean, you couldn't have written it any better."


Freshman center Josh Smith celebrates with sophomore forward Reeves Nelson, before Smith attempts to complete a three-point play. Smith came off the bench with 17 points on Saturday. Maya Sugarman-Daily Bruin
UCLA defeats No. 10 Arizona 71-49

By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
from Yahoo Sports
12 hours, 36 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES (AP)—UCLA struggled all season to put two solid halves together. The Bruins waited until their last game at historic Pauley Pavilion to do it, helped by a last basket that John Wooden surely had an assist.

Reeves Nelson had a career-high 27 points and 16 rebounds, and the Bruins defeated No. 10 Arizona 71-49 on Saturday to tie the Wildcats for first place in the Pac-10 in the last men’s game played in the arena before it closes for renovation.

Fittingly, the late Wooden’s great-grandson Tyler Trapani, a walk-on who rides the Bruins’ bench, got in the game and scored their final basket.

“It was kind of meant to be,” said Tyler Honeycutt, who had 15 points.

Joshua Smith added 17 points for the Bruins (21-8), who share the league’s top spot at 12-4 with two games remaining. They have won 12 of 14 after being out of the top 25 all season.

“It’s really good we’re tied. Our goal is to win the Pac-10 outright,” Smith said. “This was one of these games we needed to win to bump our resume with the NCAA tournament.”

Derrick Williams scored 15 points and Kyle Fogg had 10 for the Wildcats (23-6), who stumbled through a lost weekend in L.A. They arrived with a two-game lead only to be upset by Southern California on Thursday, when Williams, the league’s No. 2 scorer, was held to a season-low eight points.

Then they encountered a UCLA team hellbent on grabbing a share of the Pac-10 crown for itself while leaving Pauley on a winning note in front of Wooden’s family, including his son Jim and daughter Nan.

“It’s hard when you play in an atmosphere like this, things can easily get away from you,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We knew it was going to be a tough weekend. Today we just played against a great team in front of a very good crowd.”

UCLA’s 11 national championship banners will be packed away while the 46-year-old arena is brought into modern times during a remodeling. The Bruins will play at a location still to be determined before Pauley reopens for the 2012-13 season. The women’s team plays their final home game next week.

Jack Haley Jr., whose father Jack starred at UCLA and played in the NBA, airballed a 3-point attempt with 25 seconds to go. Trapani grabbed the ball on the left side and made the layup.

“I’m still kind of baffled at what just happened,” he said. “I usually don’t get in. For me, it’s about being here to get an education and go on in life. I feel like my great-grandpa put me in that spot.”

UCLA coach Ben Howland was overcome in the locker room after the game.

“I got some tears in my eyes,” he said, pausing and lowering his head. “I was thinking about Coach (Wooden). It was so fitting Tyler hit the shot. It fell right in his hands. There’s something going on there, I really believe it.”

A sweep would have given Arizona the regular-season title outright. The Wildcats still could have claimed at least a share of it by winning Saturday. Now it comes down to next weekend, when they host the Oregon schools and UCLA hits the road to face the Washington schools.

“Nobody is happy about the loss, but we lost to a really good team,” Arizona’s Kyryl Natyazhko said. “We have two home games left and we have to get the job done. Every time you play against UCLA it’s a big game. We didn’t play hard enough to stop them.”

UCLA held the Wildcats to a season-low in points; Arizona came in averaging 77.6—second-best in the Pac-10. The Wildcats shot 21 percent from 3-point range, well off their league-leading 41 percent.

The Bruins gained control of a game that was close early with a 22-2 run spanning halftime. Smith scored nine points despite picking up his third foul in the spurt that ended with UCLA ahead 51-30. Nelson added seven. His rebounds helped the Bruins dominate the boards 40-26.

Leading 29-28, UCLA closed the first half on an 11-2 run while the Wildcats were limited to one field goal over the final 5:03. The Bruins picked up where they left off in the second half, starting out with 11 consecutive points in front of 11,986, the biggest crowd of the season that grew more raucous as the lead increased.

Smith proved to be his usual load in the post, barreling through the Wildcats’ defense for layups. He got hit in the eye at the same time he was called for his third foul and sat down.

The Wildcats immediately took advantage, running off 10 straight points to close to 51-40. Fogg and Jamelle Horne hit consecutive 3-pointers.

Arizona scored six straight to get within nine before Smith tipped in Lazeric Jones’ missed 3-pointer with 4:02 left. But the Bruins closed the game on another run.

UCLA wore retro jerseys with “Bruins” on the front along with a “JRW” patch in the shape of Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” for the coaching legend who died in June at 99.

Among those attending the final men’s game at Pauley were former Wooden assistant Denny Crum, Olympian Rafer Johnson, and Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe from the 1971 national title team that was honored at halftime.


It's a Hollywood Ending for Pauley

By Tracy Pierson
Bruin Report Online,,,
Posted Feb 27, 2011

UCLA says goodbye to the old Pauley Pavilion in a game that would be considered a scene from a hokie Hollywood movie, beating #10 Arizona, 71-49. Reeves Nelson played the game of his career...

If you would have written it as a movie script any producer would have immediately rejected it as too hokie.

For John Wooden’s great grandson, Tyler Trapani, to score the last basket in “old” Pauley Pavilion, on the day that UCLA routed #10 Arizona, 71-49, it was surreal.

Trapani, with a few seconds left in the game, had the ball fall out of the sky and into his hands, as if it were an assist from Coach himself.

If you’re a spiritual person, you might believe that Coach was actually in the building Saturday, because UCLA played like they were possessed by Wooden’s spirit.

The Bruins played their best game of the season – no question – in dominating the Wildcats. Again, you couldn’t have written the script any hokier, that for a team which has struggled with its effort and focus all year long to put it so together in the biggest game of the year, which also happens to be the last game in old Pauley.

As we’ve maintained all season, UCLA’s defense will take this team as far as it can go, and if you watched the game Saturday, it would seem the defense has the capability of taking the team a good distance. It was an excellent defensive performance, holding Arizona to 31% shooting from the field for the game, and 25% in the second half. If you took a typical game from earlier in the year and held it up to compare it to this one, it’d look like a different defensive team, even though it was all the same guys in the uniforms.

Perhaps it was the throwback uniforms that got them to play with some throwback intensity. You know Ben Howland, who is superstitious, is going to bring out those uniforms again before the season is over.

You do have to say one slightly cynical thing about the defensive performance, too, which you have to mention because it’s dead on: It’s really amazing how well this team can play defense when they actually try, huh?

There were two guys who made all the difference in the game defensively, and that was Reeves Nelson and Anthony Stover. See, now this is why you can’t be a stats scout. If you were just looking at a box score, you could immediately understand why Nelson was the player of the game, scoring 27 points and hauling in 16 boards. But why would you even consider giving the honor of difference-maker to Stover, whose stat line is modest (except for, perhaps, that big “4” in the blocks column)? If you watch the game again you’ll see that Stover was a huge influence in every one of his 18 minutes played, blocking or altering just about every shot near him, making it near-impossible for any Wildcat to score around the basket. But it wasn’t just his shot-blocking; Stover is, by far, the best screen hedger of any big man on the team, and perhaps the best that Howland has ever had. His hedges are so good it completely disrupts the opposing team’s offensive flow, to the point they have to pretty much re-start their offense. See, now, these are the kind of little things that don’t show up on a stat sheet – hedging and altering shots – that make a huge impact on a game. The players on the court, too, aren’t robots, they have emotions, so that kind of defensive effort and performance by one of their teammates is infectious. Every time Stover is on the court it’s not coincidental that his teammates step up their defense.

Seriously, perhaps the most exciting thing about this season is imagining what Stover, who is only a redshirt freshman, is going to be like by the time he’s a senior. Hopefully Howland will have him teaching a seminar to incoming bigs about how to hedge.

The story of Nelson insisting to Howland that he wants to defend Arizona’s All-American, Derrick Williams, is also the stuff of a Hollywood script. It seemed pretty no-brainer anyway, after Nelson proved how good of a post defender he could be since he shut down USC’s Nikola Vukevic. It was a mistake, as Howland later admitted in his post-game comments, that he left Josh Smith on Williams at the beginning of the game, which resulted in Smith quickly picking up his second foul. You could see Howland cussing at himself on the bench, and we were with you, coach.

UCLA doubled Williams sometimes, and it was generally effective, and contributed to Williams having a poor game offensively, scoring a quiet 15 points. But William being pretty much an offensive non-factor in this game was almost solely due to Nelson’s defensive performance. Nelson was excellent, and it was particularly noteworthy just not because of Nelson’s good post defense, but because Williams likes to start with the ball out on the wing facing the basket quite a bit. Nelson showed he could stay with Williams, moving his feet quickly enough and staying balanced, beating Williams to the spot. It not only was physically a great defensive performance, but you’d have to suspect that Nelson also did his homework on Williams, seemingly knowing Williams’ tendencies well, and beating him to the spot as if he knew where he was going.

In the post-game interview of the players, Nelson made a reference to Bruin Report Online’s Greg Hicks, saying that he wanted to prove that Hicks was wrong for asserting that Nelson couldn’t play defense, and it certainly makes for great video (thanks, Reeves). But he also got it fundamentally wrong: Hicks and BRO never said Nelson couldn’t play defense, but that it seemed he often times chose not to.

Now that he’s shown us what kind of defense he can play when he’s focused and motivated, we’ll all definitely expect it out of him now.

And, if we’re going to get it exactly right, we’ve never really raised much criticism against Nelson’s post defense, but more often his help defense, which he actually references in the video as still needing work, and his jogging back up the court in transition.

No matter what was his inspration, it was an excellent defensive performance by Nelson. He held Williams scoreless for 20 minutes, and to only 2 points in the second half.

This game itself proved the sometimes tired axiom that defense will carry you through is right on. When UCLA’s offense went cold in the second half, and it did so for a very long stretch, UCLA held its double-digit lead against Arizona because the Wildcats just couldn’t get a good look against UCLA’s defense. Of course, give Nelson a great deal of credit for his man-to-man on Williams, but it was a definitely defensive team effort. UCLA was the best it’s been in defending screens. Much of that might have been because Arizona was giving the Bruins so much space on top of the screen for defenders to easily go around it. But the Bruins generally looked more confident and self-assured about how to defend screens, and then, even just as important, how to provide help to cut off any dribble penetration and then rotate a second time and pick up the kick-out. There were so many Arizona possessions in which they just couldn’t punch a hole in UCLA’s defense. Even the two consecutive three-pointers that got Arizona a bit back in the game in the second half came after UCLA had sustained two very good defensive trips, it was just that Arizona hit two forced three-pointers at the end of the shot clock. It was clear, though, that if UCLA kept playing defense like that for the remainder of the game Arizona wouldn’t be able to keep hitting forced, end-of-shot-clock 24 footers.

The other Bruin whose presence had such a big impact on the game is easily Josh Smith. His defense was good, but his bigger impact came on the offensive end. Besides asserting that UCLA’s defense will carry it, the other assertion we’ve been maintaining all season is that good things happen when the big dog touches the ball in the post. It seems that UCLA got that through its collective head in this game. Smith scored 17 points, and just about every time he caught the ball on the block Arizona just simply couldn’t handle him. Williams tried, but he looked like a little gnat on Smith’s back. But then, what really also made a huge impact was Smith’s passing out of the double team. Arizona collapsed a double team on him, but Smith, to his vast credit, has learned not to panic. He repeatedly found cutters or open outside shooters with his passes. Nelson needs to buy Smith a couple of Fatburgers because he was the most immediately recipient of Smith passing out of the double team, numerous times cutting down the middle of the lane for a Smith pass that led to dunk.

Tyler Honeycutt played a solid game, too, getting 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks, against just 1 turnover. He also looked energized by the emotion of the game, offensively being aggressive going to the basket and not settling for outside jumpers, while also playing good defense. Arizona is a good defensive match-up for him, since the guys he generally guards are more fours than threes. We don’t know if it’s by design, but Honeycutt is most effective defensively when he stays in front of his player but allows him into the paint, which is pretty much a trap to make the player attempt a shot, which Honeycutt has a very good chance of blocking. We’ve maintained that Honeycutt would be such a better defender if he had to defend opposing fours, and this kind of a way to re-create that.

What’s really encouraging is that, if you might notice in this article, we keep touching on the fact that UCLA is learning how to play defense, and each player is finding his defensive niche. We said in the season preview that the team could potentially be very good if this happened, and the game against Arizona is definitely an indication that on many levels it is.

Jerime Anderson also deserves recognition. He was good in every facet of the game in his 15 minutes, scoring four points, including a big basket that to an extent stemmed the tied of an Arizona second-half run, and he had 3 nice assists against no turnovers. He was instrumental in getting the offense back on track when it was sputtering, making the right, well-timed pass in Howland’s offensive set, and re-emphasizing to get the ball inside. He also played very good defense.

Another big factor in the game: 8 UCLA turnovers. When the Bruins take care of the ball, and play strong defense they’re awfully difficult to beat (that sounds strikingly like something I could have written any time between 2005 and 2008). We did notice that Nelson, on a defensive rebound, gave up the ball to a guard rather than trying to bring it up himself, and that definitely helped to limit turnovers.

We do have to say that, while UCLA did play a very good game, its best of the season, it was facilitated by a poor game from the Wildcats. While it seemed that Arizona had been starting to make a case as of late that they are just not Derrick Williams, UCLA, to an extent showed that, well, yeah they are. If you hold down Williams you can hold Arizona to 49 points. Not only is his scoring big, Williams is the key to the rest of the Wildcats scoring, and UCLA stopped that down. The Wildcats, too, appeared flat for most of the game, perhaps because it was coming off a disconcerting loss to USC, the energy of the UCLA crowd, etc. But also, Arizona’s Sean Miller seemed to make some tactical errors. UCLA’s opponents this season have minimized Josh Smith’s impact not by doubling him, but by denying him the ball, and Arizona allowed him to touch it almost at will. Smith is a good passer but sometimes doesn’t work hard to get position to catch the ball, so you’d rather deny him the ball in the post than allow him to pass out of the double team. Arizona never went to a zone throughout the game, which would have helped its defense collapse on Smith and deny him a touch. Then, if you were going to be married to the double team, you would assume the most obvious guy cutting down the lane, Nelson, was going to be getting the pass out of the double team, but it looked like it was the first time that had ever happened to the Wildcats, every time. They were particularly poor defensively away from the ball, with UCLA cutters easily leaving their flat-footed defender in the dust. As I said, too, on offense, Arizona’s screens allowed far too much space for a UCLA defender to trail his man on top of it.

Arizona’s breakdowns and curious tactical choices definitely contributed to the, yes, you have to say it – magical – day. Like it was a Hollywood script.

Hopefully the Bruins have a few more scenes of the potential feel-good movie of the year on location in Seattle.

Click on boxscore to enlarge (from Yahoo Sports)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bruins Host No. 10 Arizona

Bruins Host No. 10 Arizona

UCLA closes out the 2010-11 home schedule with Pac-10 title hopes alive.

The Official UCLA Men's Basketball website
Feb. 25, 2011



DATE: Feb. 26, 2011
SITE: Pauley Pavilion (12,819)
TIP-OFF: 1:06 p.m. (PT)
TV: FSN and Prime Ticket
TALENT: Steve Physioc (play-by-play), Marques Johnson (analyst) and Rebecca Haarlow (sideline)
RADIO (UCLA Sports Network from IMG College): AM 570 KLAC
TALENT: Chris Roberts (play-by-play) and Don MacLean (analyst)
SERIES: UCLA leads 47-35

UCLA is unranked in the AP Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll (Feb. 7) and received five votes in the coaches poll and one in the AP poll. The Arizona Wildcats (23-5, 12-3) are ranked 10th in both polls.


Lazeric Jones sprained his left wrist in the second half of the Bruins' home win over USC (Feb. 2). He finished the game and was taken for X-Rays immediately after the contest. The X-Rays were negative. He has been playing with a heavily-wrapped wrist ever since.


This is the 83rd meeting between UCLA and Arizona with the Bruins leading the series 47-35. The Bruins lost last year's matchup 77-63 in Pauley Pavilion. Kyle Fogg scored a career-high 25 points and Jamelle Horne added 17. Malcolm Lee and Michael Roll scored 15 points each for UCLA. Nikola Dragovic added 11 and Reeves Nelson chipped in 10 points. Head Coach Ben Howland is 9-9 all-time against Arizona.

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UCLA to host Arizona in what could be an emotional home finale

Arizona forward Derrick Williams tries to dribble around UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt during the second half of their game last month in Tucson, Ariz, where the Wildcats won, 85-74. (John Miller / Associated Press / January 27, 2010)

UCLA to host Arizona in what could be an emotional home finale

The Bruins play the Wildcats on Saturday in the final game at Pauley Pavilion before it closes for renovations. UCLA has a chance to move into first place in the Pacific 10 Conference with a victory.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
6:30 PM PST, February 25, 2011

It's goodbye, for now.

UCLA bids farewell Saturday to its basketball home of the last 46 years, with plans to return to Pauley Pavilion after renovations are completed in the fall of 2012.

In a fortuitous development, the Bruins will also get a chance to say hello to first place in the Pacific 10 Conference. USC's 65-57 upset of No. 10 Arizona on Thursday moved UCLA (20-8, 11-4 Pac-10) to within a game of the Wildcats (23-5, 12-3) heading into the Bruins' home finale against the conference leaders.

That means an afternoon that already figured to be sentimental for UCLA could be revved into emotional overdrive.

"It's bigger than any player out there wearing a jersey," sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt said.

UCLA is breaking out retro uniforms from the 1963-64 team, the first to win a national title under John Wooden. Some Bruins will wear matching fluorescent yellow sneakers that they debuted against Arizona State on Thursday.

Others, maybe not.

"They're ugly," sophomore forward Reeves Nelson said. "I won't wear them in public."

Whatever ensemble the Bruins choose should get plenty of exposure. A sellout crowd is expected, with fans encouraged to wear blue to enhance the home-court edge. Denny Crum is among the players from UCLA's 1970-71 national championship team scheduled to be introduced at halftime.

As far as Coach Ben Howland is concerned, there is one person missing who could complete the experience: Wooden, who died in June at 99.

"I'm really sorry that Coach isn't going to be here," Howland said. "I mean, that really in a way hurts because I would have loved for him to be here for this last game in the building that he opened. … But I'm sure he'll be watching down on us."

With the 11 national title banners hanging over them in the arena that Wooden built and star players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Marques Johnson and so many others sustained, the Bruins realize they must resist the temptation to become too emotionally charged.

"We can't come out over-hyped because sometimes that can come back and bite us in the butt," junior guard Malcolm Lee said, "so we just have to come out with intensity, but not over-intense."

A victory over Arizona could catapult UCLA into the national rankings and improve its seeding for the NCAA tournament. It could also quash the perception that the Bruins can't beat super-athletic teams such as the Wildcats, Washington and Villanova.

Sophomore forward Derrick Williams appeared to be on another plane the last time UCLA and Arizona met, carving up the Bruins' defense for 22 points during the Wildcats' 85-74 victory in Tucson.

Howland said double-teaming Williams was not an attractive option because it would leave open several of the most accurate shooters in the Pac-10. Forward Solomon Hill is making 44.4% of his three-pointers and swingman Kevin Parrom is making 43.5%, to say nothing of Williams' conference-leading 62.8%.

Williams was held to a season-low eight points Thursday against USC, so he undoubtedly will be seeking a bounce-back effort against UCLA.

"Good players, you can't hold them to zero points," Bruins freshman center Joshua Smith said, "but we just want to make it as tough as possible on him as we can."

Some might say the Bruins are making it unnecessarily difficult on themselves by vacating Pauley Pavilion for a year and playing at a hodgepodge of venues that Howland has dubbed "a road show." Howland said it's a necessary detour for the long-term good of the program.

UCLA's lineup will look dramatically different the next time it plays on campus, with freshman center Anthony Stover possibly the only starter back. In the meantime, the Bruins seek one final tribute for their storied basketball venue.

"We want to make sure we send Pauley out the right way," junior guard Lazeric Jones said.

UCLA overcomes slow start to defeat ASU 71-53

Junior guard Lazeric Jones had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists in the Bruins’ 71-53 win over the Sun Devils on Thursday. UCLA will now play Pac-10 leader Arizona on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. Photo Dana Wall Daily Bruin

Arizona State eclipsed at Pauley Pavilion as the UCLA men's basketball team shakes off another lethargic start to win 71-53

The Daily Bruin
Published February 25, 2011 in Men's Basketball Sports
Updated: February 25, 2011, 7:41 AM

The Bruins did their best to emulate the slow start that plagued them in Berkeley last weekend. But against Arizona State Thursday, the UCLA men’s basketball team stormed back and left no question about the outcome.

No 3-point buzzer-beater needed for overtime.

No overtime needed at all.

“I guess we got a kind of newsflash and everyone started playing harder,” junior guard Lazeric Jones said.

Riding a 30-8 run into halftime, UCLA overcame an early 12-point deficit to cruise past the Sun Devils 71-53 at Pauley Pavilion after another sluggish start.

The Bruins (20-8, 11-4 Pac-10) woke up down 12 with nine minutes to play in the first half after sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt nailed a 3-pointer out of a timeout. Junior guard Malcolm Lee responded immediately on the defensive end, anticipating a Sun Devil (10-17, 2-13) pass and floating the ball to a streaking Jones, who slammed it home and brought the Den to its feet.

Two minutes later, UCLA assistant coach Scott Garson was off the bench, clapping his hands and his players’ backs, pleased that the game was knotted at 21 going into another timeout.

The Bruins didn’t look back from there.

“We were patient and when we moved the ball we got good shots,” coach Ben Howland said. “That was key. This team does a good job fighting back.”

The 18-point win was UCLA’s second largest margin of victory this season.

During the early-game struggles however, the Bruins showed signs of their bad habits.

UCLA was hesitant attacking the zone, and missed four-of-six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes. Front-court players were boxed out and freshman center Joshua Smith struggled to finish near the basket.

But at the 11:08 mark, Sun Devil standout Ty Abbott picked up his third foul and would sit until the 16:52 mark in the second half. Arizona State scored once more before UCLA took a timeout – the precursor to the 12-0 run that would tie the game.

Similar early-game struggles could doom the Bruins against No. 10 Arizona on Saturday.

The conference-leading Wildcats fell in an upset loss at USC Thursday night, making Saturday’s contest all the more critical. With the Arizona loss and the UCLA win, the Bruins are one game back of Arizona for the conference lead, and the team can earn a share of first place with a win in their final game at Pauley before the arena closes for construction.

“It’s going to be the most important game of the season,” Honeycutt said.


Arizona State guard Trent Lockett battles UCLA forward Reeves Nelson (22) for the ball during the second half of Thursday's game. UCLA won, 71-53. Photo ALEX GALLARDO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Hot-shot Bruins on target again
Published: Feb. 24, 2011 11:08 p.m.

LOS ANGELES - UCLA has recently been living on the edge … of the 3-point line.
The Bruins, who made a season-high 10 3-pointers in a loss to Cal, stayed hot from behind the arc with eight more Thursday. That was more than enough for a 71-53 Bruins' victory against Arizona State at Pauley Pavilion.

Combine that with a stellar defensive effort and the Bruins earned their most lopsided Pac-10 victory of the season. But a poor start against the Pac-10's worst team left Coach Ben Howland far from comfortable with his team's performance.

“This doesn't feel like an 18-point win to me,” Howland said. “It just didn't feel like it. I'm glad we were at home today.”

On Saturday, UCLA (20-8, 11-4) plays host to first-place Arizona (23-5, 12-3), whose loss to USC left the Bruins just one game back heading into the regular-season finale. UCLA, which has won 11 of its past 13 games, lost at Arizona, 85-74, in January.

A year ago at this time the Bruins were about to finish a 14-18 season and fifth-place finish in the Pac-10.

“It goes back to right after last season ended, the returning players made a big commitment,” forward Reeves Nelson said. “We all know that UCLA basketball doesn't belong in the middle of the Pac-10 or out of the NCAA Tournament.”

Saturday also marks the final game at Pauley until the 2012-13 season.

“It's the most important game of the season,” forward Tyler Honeycutt said. “We don't want to let ourselves down.”

Guard Malcolm Lee led all scorers with 16 points, guard Lazeric Jones had 10 points and 10 assists, and Nelson had 12 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

Nowhere was UCLA's all-around effort more evident than the fact that five Bruins (and no Sun Devils) reached double digits in points.

“It's really a big number because it means a lot of our team is playing well,” Jones said. “Everyone was going after it.”

UCLA committed just nine turnovers, and 22 of its 26 baskets were assisted. The 22 assists were a season high.

“We were patient, we moved the ball and got good shots,” Howland said.

The Bruins, who came into its tilt with the Sun Devils shooting just 33.6 percent on 3-pointers, made 8 of 19 from behind the arc.

The last time UCLA played Arizona State (10-17, 2-13), the Bruins blew a 15-point second half lead before prevailing in overtime. That lull against the Sun Devils reared its head during the first half. The Bruins went seven minutes without a field goal, as ASU built up a 15-4 lead.

The Bruins fell behind 21-9 but responded with a 14-0 run.


UCLA overcomes slow start to defeat ASU
By Jon Gold, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/24/2011 10:32:13 PM PST

After coming out asleep in the first half of its four-point overtime loss to Cal last Sunday, the UCLA men's basketball team vowed to set the tone early against Arizona State on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Only the guitar was missing two strings, the strings that were left were made out of glass, and the whole thing was painfully out of tune.

The Bruins shot 1 for 10 to start the game as the Sun Devils got easy baskets, making 7 of 8 shots to take an 11-point lead.

But it was nothing to fret over, as the Bruins atoned for a brutal first 10 minutes with a brilliant run, closing the first half with a 30-8 spurt before going on to the 71-53 win, their 11 th in 13 games.

"This doesn't feel like an 18-point win," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. "I'm really happy we won by 18, but it just didn't feel like it."

For 10 minutes, UCLA wasn't just out of sorts, it was bankrupt.

There might as well have been a brick wall in front of the UCLA rim, built by the Bruins themselves. The Bruins missed more gimmes than a down-on-his-luck golfer. UCLA started 6 of 20, easy layups looking like half-court heaves.

First the Bruins got frustrated, then they got irritated, then they got downright upset.

When freshman center Joshua Smith threw down a haymaker dunk as the first-half was about to expire - receiving an emphatic chest-bump from teammate Reeves Nelson as the team walked off the court - the Bruins had made 7 of 8 and capitalized on several Sun Devils turnovers.

UCLA's Joshua Smith dunks after getting past Arizona State's Carrick Felix during the first half of the Bruins' 71-53 victory Thursday. (Christina House / For The LA Times / February 24, 2011)

"Whenever Josh dunks - especially when he's body to body with a guy - it's going to get us all hyped up," Nelson said. "I was glad he fought for position and executed the play. It was good to score into halftime. It gave us a good vibe going into the locker room."

The Bruins kept the momentum rolling, stretching the lead to as much as 20 midway through the second half against the smaller Sun Devils (10-17, 2-13).

The biggest culprits? Sound passing and even better defense.

UCLA (20-8, 11-4) clamped down on Arizona State, forcing the Sun Devils to the perimeter and outside of the paint, making just 9 of 22 shots in the second half. The Bruins benefitted from Arizona State's stagnant offense, forcing 16 turnovers and racking up 11 fast-break points and a season-high 22 assists, including 10 by junior point guard Lazeric Jones, with zero turnovers, to go along with 10 points.

Jones was one of five Bruins in double-figures, as junior guard Malcolm Lee led the way with 16. Honeycutt added 13 points and three 3-pointers, and Smith and Nelson each scored 12. No Sun Devil hit the 10-point mark, with Chanse Creekmur leading the team with nine.

"We did a good job to start the first five minutes of the second half," Howland said. "They cut it to nine, but we fought back and took a nice lead. ... We were up 20 and had a couple turnovers that led to some baskets. I called a timeout up 15, my fourth of the game. That was a tough game. Tough for me, anyway."

It doesn't get any easier Saturday.

In fact, it might just be the biggest game of the season for the Bruins.

Arizona comes into Pauley Pavilion - the last game at the venerated arena for a year, as it will be renovated next season - on Saturday, and UCLA expects the Wildcats to be fuming after they lost to USC on Thursday night.

With a UCLA win, the Bruins and Wildcats would be tied for first in the Pac-10 at 12-4.

"Coach always says that the next game is the most important, and this is definitely the case," Nelson said. "Arizona is a great team and we have a chance to be tied for first, last game in the old Pauley, so I think everyone knows how important it is."

Click on boxscore to enlarge (from Yahoo Sports)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ESPN Los Angeles on the Cal loss: "Five observations from the game"

Bruins drop OT thriller to Cal, 76-72

February, 21, 2011 Feb 2112:35AM PT
By Peter Yoon
UCLA Report, ESPN Los Angeles

BERKELEY, Calif.--In one of UCLA's most exciting games of the season, the Bruins staged a furious second-half rally and got to overtime against California, but ended up losing, 76-72, in a Pac-10 game Sunday night at Haas Pavilion.

UCLA (19-8, 10-4) appeared sluggish and unprepared for Cal, who started off with a high level of intensity and never let up. The Golden Bears (14-13, 7-8) took an early 15-4 lead and extended it to 29-18 by halftime before UCLA found its three-point range and staged a comeback.

UCLA led, 57-56, with 1:13 to play, then fell behind, 60-57, before a Malcom Lee three-pointer at the buzzer bounced high off the rim and into the basket to send the game to overtime.

But it wasn't enough as Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez scored nine of his game-high 34 points in the extra period ending UCLA's six-game win streak. It was Cal's first home victory over UCLA since 2006 and ended the Golden Bears' four-game losing streak.

"Obviously it’s a disappointing loss," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "I thought that the first half we really came out flat and that’s totally on me. There’s no way that should be."

Five observations from the game:

1. The Bruins had no answer for Jorge Gutierrez

Gutierrez made a mockery of UCLA's defense by exposing the Bruins' weakness in guarding against ball screens.

He continually took the ball up top, waited for a screen and simply drove to the basket for easy baskets. He had 23 of his career-high 34 points in the second half and overtime. His 34 points were the most any player has scored against UCLA this season.

"Gutierrez absolutely killed us down the stretch," Howland said. "He just kept attacking our bigs, attacking our hedges, our plugs. He was driving, driving."

Howland eventually switched defensive stopped Malcolm Lee on to Gutierrez, but even Lee could do little against the screens.

"It didn’t matter who was guarding him," Howland said. "What they were doing was screening for him and he was coming up to our fours and fives and he was driving them. Just turning the corner and driving them every time. Driving right around us."

2. The first half was a major disappointment

A team that fancies itself a Pac-10 title contender should not play like the Bruins did in the first half.

UCLA made only seven of 24 shots in the first half, including one of 12 on three-point attempts. They trailed, 29-18, marking the fewest points they have had at halftime this season.

California simply took it to UCLA from the opening tip, displaying a much higher energy level and seemed to take UCLA by surprise. The Golden Bears were on a four-game losing streak and are still below .500 in conference, so it could be the Bruins resorted to their old habit of taking a team too lightly.

"There’s no excuse for coming out flat with where we’re at right now," forward Reeves Nelson said. "We just need to learn from it and not let it happen again."

California out-hustled UCLA, getting to loose balls and out-rebounding the Bruins, 22-15, in the first half and 36-32 for the game. California had 16 offensive rebounds and 19 second-chance points. UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt, the Bruins' second-leading rebounder, had zero rebounds for the first time in his career.

"We didn’t have good mental focus before the game," center Joshua Smith said. "They came out fired up and it showed. We didn’t have any kind of mindset like we were going to beat them by 30. We were just trying to get a win. We knew it would be tough and you saw what happened."

3. UCLA's most effective defense was a zone

UCLA had not played a single second of zone defense so far this season, but switched to a 2-3 zone about five minutes into the second half and it helped fuel UCLA's comeback. The Bruins trailed, 37-31 at the time of the switch and tied the game at 46-46 within seven minutes.

"The zone stopped the bleeding a lot," UCLA guard Malcolm Lee said. "Although they were scoring in the zone, it was more like one out of three times, as opposed to scoring every time against the man. Zone is the reason we got back in the game."

Howland said the switch was in an effort to keep Smith and Nelson out of foul trouble. Both had three fouls at the time, but Howland took off the zone in overtime and said it's it's not something he'd consider adding to the Bruins' defense in the future.

"It caught me by surprise, to tell you the truth," Smith said. "I remember going in the huddle and he said we were going to run zone and I was kind of like 'Oh, OK.'"

Tyler Honeycutt said he was surprised the Bruins haven't played more zone this season.

"I felt like we should've played zone against a couple teams," Honeycutt said. "We’re long enough and athletic enough to do that. Showing teams different looks is going to confuse them."

4. Just getting to overtime wasn't enough

When Lee's three-pointer at the end of regulation went in, the Bruins celebrated as if the game had ended, but seemingly had a letdown in overtime: UCLA did not get a single defensive stop in the extra period.

"We all knew in our mind that we were going to win, but that’s why you play the game," Smith said.

California was six of eight from the field in overtime and got offensive rebounds on both misses. UCLA failed to box out on a missed free throw, giving Cal the ball back with a minute to play and the Golden Bears took a 71-68 lead.

Then, with 15 seconds to play, UCLA left Golden Bears guard Brandon Smith wide open in the corner for a three-point basket that gave Cal a 74-70 lead.

After fighting so hard to climb back, the Bruins were unable to seal the deal.

"After Malcolm got that roll on the three-pointer, it was kind of like it was our game kind of, so that makes it a little more disappointing," Nelson said.

5. The Bruins may be back on the NCAA tournament bubble

UCLA had won 10 of 11 games coming into Sunday's game and had gotten into position to gain at least an at-large berth for the NCAA tournament, but this will be a bad loss on the Bruins' resume come selection Sunday.

"Basically this slaps us back to reality," Lee said. "'Yo, we’re still trying to fight to get into the tournament.' When we were on the streak, everything was all good, we were feeling all gravy, 'Yeah, we’re getting into the tournament.' This kind of levels us. It gets us back down, and we have to start from square one again."

The loss also puts the Bruins' hopes of a Pac-10 title in jeopardy. They now trail first-place Arizona by two games with four to go. UCLA will face Arizona Saturday at Pauley Pavilion and also has a difficult road trip to Washington and Washington State coming up.

Smith called the loss a "small road bump in trying to win the Pac-10" but it certainly seems like a pretty big one. UCLA will have to win out and get help in the form of an Arizona loss somewhere else along the line.

"We’re just going to play out our season and let other teams play out theirs and see what happens," Smith said.

Some Jon Gold nuggets

from Inside UCLA with Jon Gold
The Los Angeles Daily News

Tidbits from Howland press conference

By Jon Gold on February 22, 2011 1:32 PM

* UCLA head coach Ben Howland said during Tuesday's press conference that the Bruins would not go back into the zone, and that his decision to switch was dictated by foul trouble.

"They scored well against the zone, too," Howland said. "They made a couple really tough shots. Harper Kamp's jump hook, even though it's one of his best shots, that was tough. You have to give them credit, they did a good job."

Howland is still nervous to allow wide-open shots, which occurred a few times against the Bears in the team's loss on Sunday.

"Crabbe had a wide-open three against our zone, and he just missed it," Howland said. "The one thing I hate about zone, eventually if they're patient, they're going to get a good shot. We were fortunate there."

What if the team is in foul trouble again?

"No. No, we're not going to be playing zone," Howland said. "The reason I went to it was the foul trouble to Reeves and Josh. Josh played with four fouls for a while, and three fouls for a while."

* Given UCLA's rather lackadaisical effort against Cal, Howland was asked if anyone was sick prior to the game.

"No, we were sick after the game," Howland joked.

I was particularly curious about Tyler Lamb, who played a season-low three minutes, but Howland said it was just his fault that he didn't play the freshman guard more.

"I should've played him more," Howland said. "I talked to him about that. He gives us good defensive presence. That was my fault."

*Howland on Brendan Lane:
"I thought he did a good job in the Cal game. I was glad to see him score a couple baskets, along with that three. He had a couple baskets around the basket which were good."

*Howland on Arizona State being a trap game on Thursday:
"I don't think so. This is a huge game for us. They're coming off a win - and they've been close - they had Cal down seven with the ball with 6:20 to go. We know what it's like to play Cal at Cal. We're going to have to play really well Thursday to win."


By Jon Gold on February 21, 2011 3:15 PM

You should have seen the looks on my colleagues' faces with around 15 minutes to play last night in UCLA's overtime loss to Cal.

There were looks of pure amazement, a little confusion, even a little smugness.

Finally, surprisingly, shockingly, UCLA switched into a zone defense. It's been a long time coming.

Despite constant questioning from the media about even testing a zone defense, UCLA head coach Ben Howland had been so steadfast in his opinion that, quite frankly, I never expected it.

Coach, will you use the zone?

Would you consider it?

Why not?
"We play man-to-man."

Do you ever practice it?
"Only when the other team uses it."

So when it happened, suffice to say, we were all blown away. So too, it appears, were the players.

"It caught me by surprise, to tell you the truth," Joshua Smith said. "I remember going in the huddle and he said we were going to run zone and I was kind of like "Oh, OK."

The response among the players was universally positive, and though Howland said he would not use the defense for the rest of the season, you have to think he'll reconsider.

"It was good. It slowed them down. They had a good game plan and the zone kind of threw them off a little bit. That's really the first time we did it all season. Coach made a good adjustment and maybe if another team is hitting all their shots on us, we'll see it again." - Reeves Nelson

"I felt like we should've played zone against a couple teams. We're long enough and athletic enough to do that. Showing teams different looks is going to confuse them." - Tyler Honeycutt

"The zone stopped the bleeding a lot. Although they were scoring in the zone, it was more like one out of three times, as opposed to scoring every time against the man. Zone is the reason we got back in the game." - Malcolm Lee

At this point, we all know Howland is who Howland is. But maybe he's learned that with this team's deficiencies, he'll need to bend a bit.

Game time set for Washington swing

By Jon Gold on February 21, 2011 1:50 PM

Game times have been set for UCLA's men's basketball trip to Washington on the final week of the Pac-10 regular season.

The game at Washington on March 3 will tip at 6:00 pm and will be televised live by ESPN or ESPN2.

The regular-season finale at Washington State on March 5 will tip at 2:30 pm and will be televised live by Fox Sports Net (Prime Ticket in Los Angeles).

Bruins could be looking across town for help

Bruins could be looking across town for help

UCLA still has an outside shot at winning the Pac-10 regular-season title, and its chances could be significantly enhanced if its city rival can beat first-place Arizona on Thursday.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
7:39 PM PST, February 22, 2011

A hearty "Fight on" could emanate from Westwood over the next two weeks.

UCLA's loss to California on Sunday puts the Bruins in the awkward position of possibly needing help from crosstown rival USC to win the Pacific 10 Conference regular-season championship.

At 10-4 in the Pac-10, UCLA trails first-place Arizona (12-2) by two games with four remaining. The teams could be tied by the end of the week if the Trojans beat Arizona on Thursday at the Galen Center and the Bruins defeat last-place Arizona State on Thursday and then the Wildcats on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.

"If Arizona takes a loss and we continue to get back on track and get wins, we can win it," UCLA junior guard Lazeric Jones said Tuesday.

UCLA could also use USC's help in fending off third-place Washington (10-5), which will play host to both schools next week.

Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson said the Bruins (19-8 overall) weren't nervous about their NCAA tournament chances, if only because they weren't thinking about them.

"We're just trying to focus on Arizona State and then Arizona," Nelson said. "We're still going to try and do the best we can in the Pac-10 because if we do that it will help our NCAA seed, so it's one before the other."

See ya?

Just because UCLA's roster includes no seniors doesn't mean a goodbye or two won't be in order this week.

The Bruins' game against Arizona on Saturday could be the final home game for Nelson and fellow sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt, junior guard Malcolm Lee and/or freshman center Joshua Smith, who all must decide whether to return next season or declare for the NBA draft.

"I haven't even started thinking about the pros, to tell you the truth," Lee said.

Asked what were the chances Saturday would be his final home game, Honeycutt said, "I don't know." Smith was not made available to the media Tuesday, and Nelson said he would sit down with his parents and Howland after the season to assess his future.

If nothing else, those playing in their final home game will look snazzy. UCLA will wear retro uniforms resembling ones worn by the 1963-64 Bruins, the first team to win a national title under the late John Wooden. Short-shorts aren't part of the ensemble.

"I think they're going to be up-to-date length," Lee said.


Honeycutt has committed 18 turnovers in his last three games and has 86 for the season, second-most in the Pac-10 behind Washington State guard Klay Thompson's 97. "He's just got to be focused on it and take better care of the ball, take less risk with some of his passes," said UCLA Coach Ben Howland, adding that he would like to see Honeycutt shoot more and pass less. . . . Jones has taken 5.2 shots per game since injuring his left wrist against USC on Feb. 2, a significant dip from the 9.7 shots he had averaged over the previous six games. "I'm still trying to get used to playing with it," he said, "so I don't want to try to do too much."

Monday, February 21, 2011

West All-Stars Westbrook, Love enjoy a Bruin reunion

The West's Russell Westbrook, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, goes up for a dunk during the first half of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday at Staples Center. (Lucy Nicholson/The Associated Press)

West All-Stars Westbrook, Love enjoy a Bruin reunion

By Phil Collin Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 02/20/2011 10:30:42 PM PST
Updated: 02/20/2011 11:45:13 PM PST

NBA: Former UCLA teammates Westbrook, Love soak in atmosphere as they play together on West.

He was the last All-Star to score, but the way Kevin Love looks at it he plans on getting another chance or two.

The former UCLA star, making his first appearance in the NBA's showcase event Sunday at Staples Center, finished with two points but couldn't stop smiling.

"Finally when I got out there it was like `OK, I'm here.' It was one of those moments you almost have to pinch yourself," Love said. "I really want to be back here next year and for many more years to come, so I'm going to work my butt off.

"It's huge. Once you make the All-Star team, that opens up a lot of doors for you and it almost makes you a household name. So hopefully if I have a great season in years to come, I'll get the recognition and our team will be winning."

Put aside the winning stuff for the moment, because his Minnesota Timberwolves are 13-43. Still, it was going to be hard to deny Love a spot on the team since he's averaging 21.1 points and 15.5 rebounds, which leads the NBA.

And he was on the floor with a former roommate and fellow first-time All-Star Russell Westbrook, his teammate at UCLA.

"It was great," Love said. "I slung a couple of outlet passes to him. One was way off and I told the guys it was intentional grounding. Those were good times, playing with him at UCLA and to be back on the floor with him was a lot of fun."

Westbrook had a different experience with 12 points and five rebounds. The guard from Leuzinger High made an immediate impact with his speed and scored eight points in seven minutes in the first half.

Westbrook said he's looking forward to returning to the All-Star Game but also to the rest of the season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I've got a whole half a year left," he said.

Westbrook, who averages 22.2 points and 8.6 assists this season, also came in second in the Skills Challenge on Saturday when he was bested by Golden State's Stephen Curry.

"I was (disappointed)," Westbrook said, "but I can't really do too much about it. I got to the final but just didn't win."

The 6-foot-10 Love held no illusions about his role with the West stars, who scored a 148-143 victory. But the bottom line was he knew he belonged.

He played 11 minutes, 44 seconds, only three minutes fewer than the Clippers' Blake Griffin, one of the weekend's leading attractions.

"More so, they come to watch guys like Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, players like that who are flashy and make the All-Star Game fun to watch because it's way above the rim," Love said.

"Still, they come out to watch everybody included with it, and that makes it even that much more fun."

Kevin Love, right, gives West teammate Kobe Bryant a hug during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday at Staples Center. (David Crane/Staff Photographer)

His experience was a different one than he might have expected.

"A lot of emotions, a lot of butterflies in the stomach, very anxious, in some ways kind of even nervous and I haven't been nervous for a game in a long, long time," Love said. "It's kind of what I expected.

"I've been in a bunch of all-star games in my career and it just so happens big men don't get too much love in all-star games, so when you touch it you almost have to shoot it. I only got three shots and I was lucky I made one of them."

Love missed his first two shots, both in the second quarter, then didn't get another chance until 8:57 remained in the game. His 21-foot jump shot gave the West a 125-112 lead.

He left with 6:53 to go when the Lakers' Pau Gasol came in for him and his team was leading by 12.

"I needed a basket, definitely," Love said. "I only had a couple of shots by then. They were very close, in and out. The fact I knocked that last one down, I was very happy about that."