Basketball Roundup: Smith the Beast

Joshua Smith showed last night how he can dominate inside against any opponent even one packing in the zone. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Cribbing the notes from those of you who watched, the stories and the little bit I watched (the last half of the second half.)  UCLA again started bad, but then started pounding it inside to Smith, Lane and Nelson to take a lead in the first half.

UCLA trailed by as many as four points in the early going, but it was the first time since the Bruins' victory over Pacific on Nov. 16 that they didn't fall behind by at least seven points in the first few minutes. Cal Poly's zone gave UCLA some problems, but the Bruins did a better job of finding each other inside than they did during a 66-57 loss to Montana on Sunday.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland went back to the starting lineup he had used in the season's first five games, which included Joshua Smith at center, and Smith led all players with 11 points on four-for-six shooting and six rebounds. Forward Reeves Nelson also resembled his old productive self after a pair of subpar games, getting nine points and three rebounds, and forward Brendan Lane had seven points off the bench.

It's a good thing the Bruins' bigs are getting it done, because starting guards Malcolm Lee and Lazeric Jones have combined for three points and made one of seven shots.

But the game was not finally out of reach until the second half when Jerime Anderson came through with an eight point scoring streak and the pass of the night on an alley opp to Tyler Honeycutt.

UCLA overwhelmed the Mustangs with the inside trio of Joshua Smith, Brendan Lane and Reeves Nelson late in the first half and got some nice play from guard Jerime Anderson in the final 20 minutes. Anderson scored eight consecutive points for the Bruins during one stretch and fed Tyler Honeycutt with an alley-oop pass for a dunk that repelled Cal Poly's final rally.

Anderson play is particularly interesting on a number of levels.  Reviewing the box score Anderson was playing with Jones for much of his hot streak in the second half.  At one point the lineup was even Jones (pg), Anderson (sg), and Malcolm Lee (3), for the first time this season.  Anderson also played point guard but the reality seems to me that he is a better 2 guard.  Anderson has shown flashes of good offense before (he was good against Cal on offense in the final game last year) but now he is trying on defense.  I still think it is not a coincidence that he played so well as 2. 

But still the star of the night was Smith.  Anderson believes Smith could be even better if he looked to score more than pass.

"He's way too passive. He could be beast of all beasts in the country," Anderson said. "We need him to score in the post. He could be a force down there."

Or as the Cal Poly kids said:

"Josh Smith was a load in the post," said Cal Poly forward David Hanson, who finished with a team-high 18 points. "I am not really sure we will play against a guy that big in the Big West."

One other other shout out to Brendan Lane.  Brendan Lane is developing into the best help defender on the team.  Lane is the biggest reason UCLA is in the top 20 in blocks in the nation and he is also doing a good job helping his teammates.  It was Lane's defense, including a game high 4 blocks, that was the other key to the second half. 

The Bruins secured the win after holding Cal Poly to just 37.9 percent shooting from the field in the second stanza.

UCLA won the battle on the boards, outrebounding the Mustangs by a 39-24 margin en route to the victory.

An adequate effort but really the team needs to come out stronger and play 40 minutes. 

CARLINO

It seems more likely Carlino left not just over playing time but not getting the chance to play the point. 

It is believed that Carlino wants to go back to playing point guard at his new destination, and finding a suitor to comply with that certainly won't be hard.

It is interesting to note that Carlino was not a PG his junior (his last year) in high school.  The other two years that he was a point guard he played for his Dad.  This may be a case of a kid (and his Dad) thinking he is something he is not.  In any case, the Arizona press slammed his as well in a story entitled Ever winding world of Matt Carlino:

Matt Carlino's first verbal college basketball scholarship offer came in the seventh grade from then University of Arizona coach Lute Olson. By the time he was about to start his sophomore season at Gilbert Highland High, the 6-foot-3 guard was committed to Indiana. Then, after Carlino and Nick Johnson led Highland to the state final as sophomores, Carlino jetted out of Arizona for Indiana.

After a season at Bloomington South High, he decided to de-commit from Indiana, graduate a year early, and sign with UCLA.

Follow the pattern.

Go Bruins.

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