Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bruins Zone Out Sun Devils, Win Pac-10 Opener

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

UCLA faithful were witness to a first in the Coach Ben Howland era - the Bruins played zone defense.

With UCLA struggling with its perimeter man-to-man defense and unable to effectively prevent dribble penetration in pre-conference games, Howland had mentioned his team might employ a zone this season.

Well, he waited until New Year's eve against Arizona State.

Effectively mixing a 2-3 zone with its standard man-to-man defense, the Bruins jumped out to an early 16 point lead and then held on to a 72-70 win over the Sun Devils in its Pac-10 opener.

Senior Nikola Dragovic found his shooting touch and tied career highs with six 3-pointers and 23 points.  The 6'9 Serbian had entered the game shooting just 22% from the three-point arc.

With Dragovic hitting from the perimeter, his teammates found their rhythm as well. Fellow sharpshooter Michael Roll was 4 of 4 from three-point land and finished with 12 points.  

While UCLA (6-7, 1-0) was mixing up its defense to hold Arizona State to 44% shooting in the first half, the Bruins were sizzling at a 83% opening half clip to open a 42-31 halftime lead.

Not surprisingly though the Bruins shooting cooled down in the second half as the Sun Devils mounted a comeback.  With senior leader Derek Glasser on the bench, Arizona State cut the lead to just one point, 60-59, with less than 4 minutes remaining.

But then the Bruins scored 8 straight points to push the lead back to 9 with just over 2 minutes. 

However, Arizona State then started putting UCLA at the line and the Bruins continued their struggles with free-throws and almost lost the game, missing 5 of its last 9 free throws.

In the winding seconds of the game and UCLA up by just two points, after two missed free throws by Reeves Nelson, the Sun Devils had a chance to win the game on a three-pointer but Jerren Shipp's long distance attempt was blocked by Jerime Anderson as time expired.

Anderson played a solid game with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists while only committing 2 turnovers.  Malcolm Lee had 16 points and Reeves Nelson 10 points as all five Bruins finished in double figures.

Senior James Keefe returned from a shoulder injury and played a productive 12 points, grabbing 3 rebounds.

UCLA now takes on Arizona on Saturday, January 2, in an early 10:00 AM game at Pauley Pavilion.


At Jan 1, 2010, 2:58:00 AM, Anonymous ReactionOC said...

A parallel universe in Westwood? Drags hitting his 3's, Anderson was productive and big block at the end. A ZONE defense implemented by Howland. Hell has frozen over!

At Jan 1, 2010, 4:44:00 AM, Anonymous BZ said...

Well....there was a blue moon yesterday :0
Seriously this was a great start for the Bruins and I hope they can build upon it... esp Jerime and Drag.
Go Bruins!

At Jan 2, 2010, 1:18:00 AM, Anonymous Tim said...

Good job Anderson and Dragovic, finally deciding to play some ball, but great job Coach Howland finally deciding to mix things up. I believe Coach Howland played a zone defense for the 1st time in his coaching tenure at UCLA and for the 1st time did not call a timeout after his team scored a basket, which always killed the momentum, and instead called his timeouts to set up an offensive play. Hopefully this game is a building block for a successful season.

At Jan 2, 2010, 2:26:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin66 said...

What do the all those Dragovic cirtics have to say?
I have faith that if Coach plays him, he must have something to offer.

At Jan 4, 2010, 8:24:00 AM, Anonymous Matt Stairs said...

Drag needs to stop shooting fact all the bruins need to stop shooting the threes until they can hit them consistently. Damn college kids think they are shooters....

At Jan 4, 2010, 1:39:00 PM, Anonymous Jammer said...

Look what happened against the Wildcats, a couple of days later. Drags should be on the bench.


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