Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bruins Win Final Exhibition Game Tune-Up

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Josh Shipp scored a game-high 21 points to lead UCLA to an 87-61 victory over Humboldt State in the second and last exhibition game for the Bruins.

Shipp was efficient from the field, hitting on 7 of 8 attempts including 3 of 4 from three-point distance in 28 minutes of play.  The sophomore forward also recorded a team-high three steals.

The Lumberjacks stayed within a 12-14 point range of the Bruins for most of the game, but eventually UCLA's overwhelming athleticism and depth took over as they led by as much as 30 points in the second half.

However, Humboldt State, with a nucleus of solid players, provided the Bruins with a competitive game for the most part.  Kevin Johnson, a big and athletic 6'7 forward, Johnson finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and gave UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute a tough match-up all evening.

Lumberjack 6'9 center Cy Vandermeer scored 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting and exposed the Bruin's weakness in guarding the low post. 

Starting center Alfred Aboya had difficulty handling the size and bulk of Vandermeer.  When Aboya gave way to sophomore Ryan Wright, he did not fare much better. Although Wright was a better physical match-up underneath, he still needs to improve his ability to defend the post and control the paint.

The Bruin's inability to effectively guard the low post for a second straight exhibition game highlights the need for junior center Lorenzo Mata to return to the line-up soon. 

Mata dressed up for the game last night and went through warm-ups with the team.  He is expected to play some minutes in the season opener against BYU, but UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland realizes it will be some time before Mata fully regains his conditioning.

Offensively, the Bruins sizzled from the outside making 10 of 19 for 52.% shooting on three-pointers.

Arron Afflalo added 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting and was 3 of 6 from beyond the three-point arc.  He took a number of nasty spills during the game, and in the second half he briefly left the game to have his knee iced down, but Afflalo was able to return and finish the game 

After committing 24 turnovers in a sloppy game against Cal Poly Pomona last week, UCLA cut its turnovers to 15 against Humboldt State.

"I think we played much better tonight," Afflalo said. "We limited our turnovers a little more. Overall, it was a better game. But we still have a lot of room to improve."

Freshman Russell Westbrook continues to impress.  He finished with 11 points and played excellent defense.  Although he still has the propensity to force the issue too much on offense, Westbrook showed the ability to breakdown defenders to get into the paint for a pass or pull-up jumper.

"I was pleased with Russell (Westbrook)," Howland said. "He did a great job."

Sophomore Micheal Roll showed much better shot selection against Humboldt State than he displayed last week.  He finished with 10 points on 3 of 4 shooting from three-point distance.

The Bruin's next game will be their regular season opener against BYU on November 15 at Pauley Pavilion.

BBR Notes: As a precautionary measure freshman James Keefe did not play in the exhibition game after suffering a neck strain when he collided with Arron Afflalo during practice.  Nikola Dragovic, who was not expected to play major minutes in the game, logged 12 minutes and scored 1 point.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)



At Nov 10, 2006, 3:53:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Fan said...

2 games in, I'm concerned about our point guard spot and a presence in the middle. Whoever plays point, should consistently chip in 10 points a game and not have sooo many turnovers...Shipp and Afflalo will get 20 each a game...Did our "king" disappear these past two games?? We need his double double per game. UCLA is Duke "West Coast"...a dynasty in the making...the addition of Kevin Love and the begging of Afflalo to stay another year would be a Bruin fans's great not having a senior on this year's roster...GO BRUINS!!! Howland will make it work - WATCH! Oh yeah, the Trojans stil stink!

At Nov 10, 2006, 7:26:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

It's probably still early to make too many judgements about this team. If one recalls, last year's Final Four team struggled early on in the season against the likes of Delaware St and Albany.
Although one concern thus far has been the Bruins poor low post defense in the two exhibition games. BYU will be quite a challenge for the team. UCLA could really use a healthy Lorenzo Mata next week.
With Westbrook surprising many people, including Howland, the PG position is more solid than expected. Collison should be fine once he settles down.
As for Luc, Howland is rather satisfied with his play to this point. Luc doesn't have to score points to be effective but he'll have some big scoring nights during the year.


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