LOS ANGELES, CA - Tyler Lamb had his best game as a Bruin. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
UCLA offensive execution was a thing of beauty Saturday afternoon. It made Colorado, look, well silly:
The Buffs, who fell out of a tie for first-place in the Pac-12, had been holding opponents to 38.8 percent shooting entering the game. The Bruins made 31-of-52 shots (59.6 percent) and finished with 26 assists.
"They played better than us. Period," CU senior guard Carlon Brown said after being held to six points. "They shot the ball well, they executed better, and they made our defense look pretty bad. . . .
"We're the best field-goal percentage defensive team in the league," Boyle noted. "And they made us look silly."
Lamb's smothering defense all but totally shut down Brown, the Buffalos' leading scorer, setting the tone in a convincing 77-60 UCLA victory over Pac-12 co-leader Colorado at the Sports Arena.
Lamb held Brown to one field goal, none in the game's final 26 minutes-plus, and had team-highs in steals (3) and rebounds (7) plus a blocked shot on afternoon in which the Bruins limited Colorado to 34.8 percent shooting from the field in a second half in which UCLA led by 19.
Lamb, the sophomore out of Mater Dei High, was just as impressive on the offensive end, connecting on 3 of 5 shots from behind the 3-point arc on the way to 13 points while also handing out six assists.
"His best game as a Bruin," UCLA coach Ben Howland said of Lamb's performance.
But this was more than a one man effort.
Even the normally depressing Sports Arena crowd was better.
"Our crowd got here today and supported us," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "I think our players were very enthused by the support of our fans and the students today. That was really nice. I think this is by far the best crowd we've had at the Sports Arena this year."
The crowd of 9,253 was the largest for the Bruins at home this season, including games played at Honda Center.
But more than the crowd the team played a complete game on offense:
We were in the huddle and we were communicating in timeouts, coach Howland was asking us what we thought would work and our senior guards stepped up a lot."
Senior guard Lazeric Jones had a team-high 17 points and nine assists, Anderson added eight points and eight assists and Lamb added 12 points and six assists as UCLA finished with 26 on the afternoon. The sharp passing helped the Bruins erase an early deficit that was plagued by sloppiness.
As Howland said:
"That's how basketball is meant to be played," Coach Ben Howland said. "I love it that our players get joy out of making a pass that leads to a play."
And the UCLA offense is playing very efficiently. As Peter Yoon writes:
The Bruins were a well-oiled machine on offense, shooting a season-best 59.6 percent from the field for the game and getting 26 assists with only 12 turnovers. And this against the team that entered the game holding opponents to a Pac-12 leading 38.8 percent shooting. . . .
The 26 assists were a season high and the most for UCLA since Dec. 31, 2006, against Washington.
It was the second consecutive game that the Bruins set a season best in field goal percentage and the fifth time in six games that the Bruins have shot over 50 percent. They are now shooting 50.4 percent in Pac-12 games -- second in the conference. Over the last seven games, UCLA is shooting 52.5 percent.
"We're executing better and better as the season progresses," Howland said. "We really went back to work on it after the first road trip in conference."
But that is just it. UCLA is still 1-4 on the road and has not won a game against a Division I opponent outside of Los Angeles and only beat win-less U$C on the road this year. So that's why I don't like the sentiment that Jones shows here:
"Beating a team like this shows we can be in [the race]," Jones said. "If we continue to do that, who knows where we'll end up."
Because of the start the Bruins had this year and win-less trips to Northern California and Oregon, UCLA has to win for the first time since 2004 on the road at Washington to stay "in the race" and likely win the rest of their Pac-12 road games. That seems like an unrealistic proposition and a "silly" thing to predict.
So enjoy the good offensive execution until Thursday night on ESPN against Washington. Because we all know Thursday night ESPN games work out well for Bruins fans. Sorry I am being silly.