Bruins can't shoot early or defend, get clawed by the Wildcats

In this week's podcast, I did predict a split of this weekend's series with the Arizona schools, only I got the victorious opponents mixed up. The Bruins follow up Thursday's gutwrenching victory over Arizona State with a 77-63 defeat at the hands of Arizona that never really felt that close. The Bruins fall to 6-8 for the season, and 1-1 in the Pac-10. Here is the box score.

At one point late in the 2nd half, the CBS crew described the game as a story of two half's for the Bruins. While true that the Bruins were able to hold serve against the Wildcats in the second half, the performance in the first half rivaled Mississippi State as the worst stretch of basketball played by the Bruins this season. 21% Shooting from the field together with 8 turnovers and a 27-15 advantage on the boards by Arizona led to a 35-20 halftime deficit that the Bruins could not overcome. The Bruins surged late in the second half, Malcolm Lee's 14 points part of the team's 15-25 (60%) performance from the field that was countered by 7 more Bruin turnovers and 56% shooting by the Wildcats. Nikola Dragovic could not carry Thursday's shooting performnace into this morning, shooting 2-7 overall, and 0-5 from behind the arc. To his credit, he did hit 7-8 free throws, giving him another double-digit scoring effort.

There are not many positives to take away from today's game. After being limited in Thursday afternoon's game due to illness, Tyler Honeycutt played 24 minutes and continued to show promise, with 4 points on 2-4 shooting and bringing in 7 rebounds. Michael Roll and Malcolm Lee tied for the team lead with 15 points each, though both players struggled mightily in the first half and into the second before finding some signs of life late. After showing improvement from the line early in the first half, the team's struggles continued, wasting a 30-21 free throw advantage over Arizona by missing 10 shots from the line.

As much as the Bruin offense struggled this morning, the team's performance on defense was even more of a dissapointment. A normally weak rebounding Arizona team took 12 offensive rebounds (outrebounding the Bruins 38-31 overall) and shot 48% from the field, while burning the Bruin's man defense again and again. Not going to call out any individual defenders, not because I feel bad about doing so, but becase this defensive perfomance was a true team effort.

After going to a zone defense for significant portions of Thursday's game against ASU, Coach Howland declined to use this D at all today. Maybe he thought that Jamelle Horne's hot shooting from outside early in the contest made the zone unwise, but given the abuse heaped on our man D by Derrick Williams (16 points, 9 rebounds) and Kyle Fogg (career high 25 points!), that may have been a risk worth taking.

This is your Saturday post-game thread. Have at it.

Go Bruins!

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