Is it class of 66 Barn Cat v. House Cat analogy? Is it like Captian Malcolm Lee said, we play to the level of the competition? Do we get "lackadaisical" with a big lead like Reeves Nelson said. Whatever the case UCLA showed that they are that strange sort of team that if you are good you DON'T want to play because they will play you tough and will kill your RPI if you lose to them BUT if you are bad team you do want to play because they will give you a chance.
Before I go any further, I do want to credit two players who did play hard the entire time against Montana State University last night, Brendan Lane and Malcolm Lee. As LVBruin said, Lee is the only person who understands the talent advantage. Lee showed why he is Captain, he was not going to lose to a Montana school twice in a year. Kudos to Lee. Smith and Lamb also did not play bad in their limited minutes. Everyone else. . .As Tydides said there was a point in the game when it seemed every loose ball and most rebounds went to MSU. This is an effort issue, Montana wanted them more.
Okay let's go to the quotes. First Reeves Nelson who said before the game "Don't think it (a loss to another out of conference underdog) will happen again" after the game had this exchange when he was asked if UCLA is good enough to take any teams, including MSU, lightly :
He grinned and shook his head, but no words came out.
Teammates Joshua Smith and Malcolm Lee came to the rescue, as they did earlier in UCLA's 75-59 win over Montana State on Tuesday at Pauley Pavilion.
"No," Lee said vehemently.
"Say no," Smith chimed in.
And finally, a "no" from Nelson.
CBH seemingly saw it coming and had a well timed meltdown on the sideline where he threw his clipboard down and screamed at the Bruins:
Howland said he could see it coming Monday, despite his player's assurances they would not overlook Montana State after the season's high point, an 86-79 win over BYU in the Wooden Classic on Saturday at the Honda Center.
Especially not after what happened three weeks prior, when the Bruins followed a last-second, one-point loss at Kansas with the collapse against the Grizzlies, a 66-57 loss that had the team reeling.
"I thought we were way too loosey-goosey yesterday," Howland said. "Part of is, we had a great game Saturday. It's how to handle success. That game is over, win or lose.
"I didn't think we had one of our better practices yesterday. Last time we had a practice like that was against Montana."
After MSU took a 3 point lead 15:10 left:
Then Howland had his meltdown.
"We could tell he was (angry)," said guard Malcolm Lee, who finished with a game-high 18 points.
The Bruins responded with jumpers from Honeycutt and Lee, which in turn seemed to jumpstart the UCLA defense.
"A lack of focus," Lee said later, explaining the Montana State comeback. "Our sense of urgency was down. We're not good enough to take any team lightly. We just had a mental let down."
Emphasis was mine. Now we are in the surreal state where I am more worried about the upcoming UCI game then the Wazzu game. Why? Two days rest, no crowd and we may well play down against UCI. Oh, one other bit of news. Tyler Honeycutt may miss the UCI game.
UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, sprained his right shoulder Tuesday during the Bruins' 75-59 victory over Montana State, and his status for Thursday's game against UC Irvine is doubtful.
Honeycutt, averaging 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds heading into Tuesday's game, was going to have an X-ray on Tuesday night and an MRI on Thursday morning on his right AC joint, but coach Ben Howland didn't sound optimistic that he'd be able to play against the Anteaters later Thursday.
"We don't think it's a long-term problem, but his status for Thursday would be doubtful," Howland said.
Obviously we should be able to beat UCI with any combination of scholarship players but if I am for UCI, I know if I keep playing hard against these Bruins they will let up at some point. And that let up may just be enough. Prove me wrong Bruins. Grow up and start acting like UCLA players for 40 minutes.