As we have noted today and throughout the week, UCLA Basketball is in a tight spot in terms of making it to the Big Dance. With a 13-10 record entering the day - with a series of all-too-close conference losses and in spite of a pair of NCAA committee-frustratingly bad losses in the non-conference slate, there is still a roadmap for the Bruins to make it into March Madness, but which required the team to win tonight. While it was not the prettiest of games, UCLA was able to come out strong early, and despite some down stretches never give up that advantage in defeating the Cardinal 72-61 at the Sports Arena.
Things started up for the Bruins, and unlike the game at Maples where an early UCLA hot stretch quickly cooled, the team was able to extend that lead, ending up with a 24-9 run for the largest margin of the evening. But Stanford did start chipping away at that lead later in the half, ending with Joshua Smith on the bench with 3 fouls and the Bruin lead down to 6. Stanford made some further progress to start the second half, trimming the UCLA lead to 4 points in the first couple of minutes. To the credit of the team, as Smith picked up his 4th foul fairly early in the half, and Travis Wear joined the 4 foul club later in that half, they were able to stay composed and to hang on to that lead. There was more than one Josh in foul trouble tonight - Stanford's Josh Owens was also collecting whistles, picking up his 4th foul with nearly 6 minutes left in regulation. UCLA was able to ice the game in the final two minutes, keyed by a pair of steals with the resulting Bruin possessions taking the lead back into double digits.
Stanford was not hitting many from the field - the UCLA D Limited the Cardinal to just 35% from the field - but were able to convert their free throws. The Bruins, as is all too familiar, struggled from the line, making 58%, while hitting 47% of their shots from the field. Lazeric Jones was again UCLA's leading scorer, finishing with 21 points on 15 shots while dishing out 6 assists. Travis Wear scored 13, and Jerime Anderson had 12 points and 6 assists. Limited by foul trouble, Josh Smith finished with 7 points and 6 rebounds - making 5 of 7 from the line.
UCLA's next game is Saturday at 1pm against Cal at the Sports Arena. This is your post-Stanford open thread.