UCLA Hoops Notes: Healthy Bruins, Free Throw "Issues" & Being "Ready" for the Bears

Bruins have won 10 games in a row in those white uniforms.(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Let's go over some quick game day notes before we get set for the tip off the "biggest test of the season." The tip-off is scheduled for 1:07 pm PST (FSN and Prime Ticket). It is worth repeating that this is very much a must-win game if the Bruins want to hold on to any hope of salvaging this underachieving season and get into the dance. If you are looking to do a quick read through the news highlights this am, here are the key bullets:

Bruins health - looking good: Bruins are relatively healthy heading into today's matchup. Travis Wear, who missed the Wazzu game with a high ankle sprain, played 28 minutes in the Trees and "felt all right." [LA Times].

Eye on (bad) free throw shooting: If the Bruins want to pull out a win this afternoon, they will have to get the job at the free throw line. They have been atrocious to date, going only 65.2% during Pac-12 play. Our guys went 10 for 15 in a two-point loss to Washington and 10 for 21 in a seven-point loss to Oregon. Something to keep an eye on what could be a close game at the Sports Arena this afternoon. [LA Times].

More after the jump.

Keeping Josh out of foul trouble: From Peter Yoon at ESPNLA:

If the Bruins can make a run in the last third of conference play, they'll need to keep Joshua Smith out of foul trouble. After dominating on the trip to Washington, Smith was a limited factor Thursday against Stanford because he picked up two early fouls and then a third late in the first half. His fourth foul came about six minutes into the second half and all of them were offensive fouls -- illegal screens or charges.

Smith appeared to be frustrated by Stanford's physical play and tried to bully back.

"That's how they're going to play him," Howland said. "He takes a lot of abuse, but when he slows down, he is really, really dominant. When he gets sped up and he's trying to go to fast is when he gets in trouble. He just needs to slow down."

May be the student section can dress up in Washington purple making Josh feel like as if he were playing in Seattle?

Being "ready": Coach Ben Howland had some strong reaction to an interesting Anthony Stover comment (again) about Bruins not being "ready" to play the Cal game when they met earlier in the season. More Yoon:

Howland on Friday said Stover should do something about it should he have that feeling before UCLA's game against the Golden Bears at 1 p.m. at the Sports Arena.

"I'm embarrassed for him if he knew we weren't ready in his mind and didn't do anything about it," Howland said.

I agree with Howland's sentiment here. If Stover knew the players were not "ready" for the Cal game, he should have done something about it and spoken up. Then again, we have no idea here what went on behind the background. What was very clear that the team did implode in the second half (like they have done in number of other games this season).

Perhaps the Bruins get a mulligan because they were playing after a demoralizing loss against Stanford due to poor coaching from Howland in the game before. They shouldn't have those issues (or excuses this afternoon). See you guys at the game thread.


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