NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 18: Joshua Smith #34 of the UCLA Bruins dunks in the first half against Sir'Dominic Pointer #15 of the St. John's Red Storm at Madison Square Garden on February 18, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Wish that I could have been surprised by this game, but the signs were clear coming into this morning's game in New York. In a game where neither team was ever able to take an extended run, the Bruins fell behind early in the second half and despite never falling more than a few points back, could not fight past the Johnies, through their fatigue or overcome their mistakes, losing at Madison Square Garden by a final score of 66-63.
As the Daily Bruin tounge-in-cheekly tweeted during the game, Coach Howland charitably matched St. John's shorthanded lineup by using only 7 players today - despite practicing on Friday and having been listed as probable in the injury report, Anthony Stover was again held out of action, while Brendan Lane again might as well have stayed in his Westwood apartment rather than travel to the game. Given the short lineup and high minutes played by the starters on Wednesday night against Southern Cal and the cross-country flight that followed, the idea that the starters were vulnerable to tiring as this game went on was a pretty obvious one, yet the bench was not well utilized. And as the players were struggling late, whatever fundamentals they have - or at least the ability to execute the fundamentals - were not on display for the audience watching on CBS. The inability of a Wear to box out continued today, most painfully coming in the final seconds as St. John's guard Phil Greene took advantage to put back a teammate's missed shot for what became the winning basket.
The Bruins were able to hold St. John's to 35% shooting in the first half, and 37% for the game but the Johnies took advantage of their opportunities at the line, hitting all 9 of their first half attempts and 14 of 16 for the game. there really was not much of a free throw advantage for the home team today, instead it was the frequent Bruin turnovers which really helped out their cause. UCLA turned the ball over 16 times today, "led" by Tyler Lamb's 8 giveaways, including a couple of time where he simply stepped out of bounds. At least Tyler was performing better in other aspects of his game, leading the team with 18 points (7-13 from the field) and coming down with 6 rebounds. Travis Wear finished with a double-double (11 points, 13 rebounds, 7 offensive) while Joshua Smith and David Wear scored 13 each with a small sum of rebounds. Not much offensive production from our remaining guards: Jerime Anderson and Lazeric Jones combined for 8 points on 2-15 shooting, though Jerime did dish out 7 assists and took 4 steals on the defensive end.
All in all, this is far too typical of a Bruin performance in the contemporary Ben Howland era. For folks that have not gotten their fill of UCLA Sports today, the Bruin baseball team continues their series against Maryland this afternoon at JRS. Our open thread for that game will be going up around 1:30 PST.
This is your post-St John's thread. Have at it, folks.