Though Pauley Pavilion lacked the frenetic energy present in Friday’s win over Missouri, and the Bruins looked sluggish at points, UCLA still did enough to outlast the Cal Golden Bears and win their 6th consecutive game.
After the game was tied 21-21 late in the first half, the Bruins finished the first half on a 17-7 run to take a 38-28 lead into the locker room, and never surrendered the lead in the 2nd half. After an 8-2 run by UCLA to open the 2nd half, Cal came storming back behind an onslaught of offensive rebounds and strong play from star junior Allen Crabbe.
After shooting only 2-9 in the first half, Crabbe shot 8-12 in the second half to lead the Golden Bears’ rally. Cal cut the Bruins’ lead to 58-53 with 7:55 to go, but that’s as close as they got. UCLA finished the game on a 21-12 run, sparked by clutch baskets from Shabazz Muhammad, who coach Howland described as having “Ice water in his veins”, and of all things, strong free-throw shooting.
The Bruins finished 23-31 from the line tonight, including hitting their last 9 foul shots to ice the game, turning a weak point of the Bruins’ game in recent years into a more reliable factor. UCLA outscored Cal 23-5 at the foul line, a statistic that likely was the deciding factor in tonight’s victory.
Leading the foul shooting for the Bruins was increasingly impressive freshman guard Kyle Anderson, who along with his 19 points and 12 rebounds, shot a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. Late in the game when Cal was desperate for a comeback, Anderson seemingly secured every defensive rebound in sight and hit huge free throws to quell any chance of a Cal miracle.
Also leading the charge for the Bruins tonight was Larry Drew II, who dished out 9 assists this game compared with 0 turnovers. During this 5-game home stand, Drew has now amassed 47 assists compared with only 6 turnovers.
Despite the difficulty stopping Allen Crabbe, which frankly every team struggles with, the Bruins actually showed a much more effective defensive effort tonight. Travis Wear believed that “Defensive rotations were much better tonight,” and Kyle Anderson added that “We (the Bruins) have grown a lot defensively since the beginning of the season.” UCLA held the Golden Bears to only 39.5% shooting on the game, including a dismal 0-13 output from 3-point range.
Up next for the Bruins are the Stanford Cardinal, who were shocked earlier tonight at lowly USC, 71-69, missing a runner and a put-back dunk at the buzzer to seal their fate. Shabazz Muhammad will likely be called upon to defend Stanford guard Chasson Randle, who is surely a tough task to handle despite his early season struggles.
Nonetheless though, based upon the much improved defense that Muhammad has shown in recent games, there is no reason to believe that he cannot rise to the challenge and perform effectively again Saturday afternoon.
- Ben Caplan (Cali Swag/All About Sports)
- The win marked the 10th consecutive conference home-opener victory for the Bruins
- Cal made zero 3-point shots for the second consecutive game
- UCLA held an opponent to zero 3-point makes for the first time since the Final Four victory over LSU on April 1, 2006