Today’s Pac-12 battle between the Bruins and the Cardinal was anything but pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly at times. Yet basketball is not a beauty contest, and a win is a win. The 68-60 victory for UCLA, despite the sloppy play, was their 7th straight. Ben Howland affirmed this point as he stated, “Any win is a beautiful win.”
The first 10 minutes of the game were marred by poor offense and solid defense, as UCLA struggled to a 15-13 lead. The Bruins closed the half on a 15-9 run to take a 30-22 lead into the break.
UCLA quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead in the 2nd half, propelled by 7 early points by Shabazz Muhammad, and never surrendered the lead after that.
Following some offensive struggles and poor defensive rebounding by the Bruins, Stanford rallied for a 16-7 run to cut the Bruins’ lead to 58-53 with about 2:30 to go. After 4 consecutive UCLA misses at the free throw line left the door open for Stanford, three by sharpshooter Jordan Adams, the Bruins hit their final 9 free throws to close the door on the Cardinal.
UCLA won this game by playing their patented brand of strong defense that has become so commonplace under Coach Ben Howland. After early season defensive struggles, the Bruins appear to have pulled it together the last couple of games, holding Stanford to a dismal 34% from the field today.
Shabazz Muhammad led the way for the Bruins offensively, totaling 23 points, 17 in the 2nd half, and 10 rebounds, his 2nd double-double of the season. Larry Drew II also put up another efficient performance, finishing with 7 assists and only 1 turnover, giving him a final tally of 54 assists and only 7 turnovers on this 6-game home stand.
The Stanford Cardinal were led today by junior forward Dwight Powell, who played very effectively to the tune of 17 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists, though his 7 turnovers certainly cost the Cardinal in the long run. Chasson Randle also finished the game on a strong note, finishing with 17 points himself.
Up next for the Bruins are Utah and Colorado next Thursday and Saturday, respectively. The game at Utah marks the first true road game for the Bruins this season. However, it is against a less-than-impressive Utah squad which even lost earlier this year at home to mid-major Cal State Northridge of the Big West. Colorado will certainly be a much tougher test, led by standout forward Andre Roberson and improved second-year guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Bruins will need to keep playing the strong defense they’ve displayed the last couple games to keep this streak rolling and get the team back to the national elite status that UCLA fans everywhere believe this team can amount to.
- Ben Caplan (CaliSwag/All About Sports)
- This winning streak (7 straight) is the longest for the Bruins since they won 10 straight in the 2008-2009 season
- Stand had 2 technical fouls tonight, including a game-clinching technical late when they tried to call a timeout when they had none left