For one day UCLA fans can feel a bit better. Led by their freshman, UCLA beat Stanford 88-80 in a game that helped, for a day at least, to push away the memory of an embarrassing loss to Cal.
"In that Cal game, I think we rushed a couple shots and slipped up on defense," said Anderson, who scored 18 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. "That was a miss. The way we bounced back was very mature of us. ... The three freshmen stepped up."
"No question, those three freshmen played great," Howland added.
Shooting a combined 22 of 35 from the field, the trio of Muhammad, Anderson, and Adams scored 63 of UCLA's 88 points - a total that equaled the Bruins' total against Cal - and put together their best combined performance since scoring 72 against Fresno State on Dec. 22.
Officially the play of the game was a four point play by Shabazz Muhammad:
It was a rare play, indeed. UCLA was up by five with under two minutes to play at Stanford. Shabazz Muhammad nailed a three pointer on the right wing while falling on his wallet.
Count the basket, plus the foul.
As he was helped up by his teammates, the Bruins talented freshman cracked a smile. The four-point play is rare. Muhammad showing his teeth on the basketball court is rarer. It sealed the deal for the Bruins in a 88-80 win over Stanford (15-10, 6-6 Pac-12) at Maples Pavilion. . . .
"This was a must-win like I said (after the Cal loss)," said Muhammad to FOX Sports Radio. "(We) just came out here and played hard. Everybody scored. We were really unselfish with the ball. That's what counts.
But to me the "plays" of the game were by Kyle Anderson. His second half was the most hopeful sign for the future. Although not in the news, I did some quick research and found that:
Kyle Anderson has shot 13-53 or 24% in the seven losses, no game over 50% and only one as good as 40%. (By comparison Shabazz shot over 50% in three losses and Adams shot over 40 in all but one of the losses).
This team needs Kyle to play well to win. So even though I think Stanford's Johnny Dawkins is a terrible coach, there is something to this comment:
Anderson kept things from getting out of hand with his best showing in more than a month. The 6-foot-9 guard scored 13 of his points in the second half and fed Muhammad for a key layup with 1:34 left to play.
"When Kyle Anderson's playing aggressively, he's hard to guard," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "His ability to put the ball on the floor is a huge advantage. He's 6-9 being guarded usually by a bigger guy but he's able to make plays at the perimeter."
Speaking of Dawkins, before anyone reads too much into this win, keep in mind part of the reason we won is because Stanford, like UW and WSU, is poorly coached.
The Bruins' no-show performance at Cal dropped them out of a tie for first place. The Golden Bears showed everyone how to handle UCLA, applying defensive pressure and running double teams at Muhammad all game.
The Cardinal, apparently, didn't get the memo, and the Bruins shot 54%.
How bad is Stanford?
Stanford kept the game close but never fully seized control - unsurprising once you consider the Cardinal's numerous missed shots. Some point-blank misses in the paint hurt, but it was Stanford's inability to find a rhythm from beyond the arc that doomed them. It made over 55 percent of its downtown attempts in their last four wins, but barely made a fifth against UCLA. For the second straight game, the Cardinal shot below 30 percent from long range and lost.
I supposed one could argue good defense in the clutch but Stanford certainly helped the improved play on offense and defense:
Stanford (15-11, 6-11) was within a point at 66-65 with 6:16 to play and was still within four points with 4:05 to play. But UCLA held the Cardinal without a field goal over the next 3½ minutes, taking an 84-73 lead by the time the Cardinal made another basket. . . .
Stat of the game: The Bruins shot 54.4 percent from the field, putting the brakes on an offensive slide that's been going for the better part of seven games. UCLA's 88 points were the most for the Bruins since a 97-94 overtime victory against Missouri in the final nonconference game of the season and only the second time UCLA has scored 80 or more in conference play. The Bruins also held Stanford to 38.5 percent shooting, marking the first time in six games they've held an opponent under 40 percent from the field.
A couple other random notes to consider. First and foremost, while the freshman were key, I also think Larry Drew II deserves a shout out for his improved shooting.
Larry Drew II tied his season high with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He was 2-for-2 on 3-pointers. In the two Bay Area games, Drew made six of seven 3-point attempts.
And a funny one. The Athletic Department needs more Bill Walton!!!
UCLA is now 6-1 in games called by Bill Walton.
But we need to close with a shout out to the UCLA fans at Mapple. You guys were great and it was actually my favorite moment. It was great hearing the U C L A chant go around the arena and more importantly the players heard it:
By the time the Bruins were done, memories of Thursday's 76-63 loss to Cal had less bite. The group therapy session included a strong showing by UCLA fans, who turned Maples Pavilion into an auxiliary Pauley Pavilion, with "UCLA" chants getting louder and longer as the game progressed.
"They were louder than Pauley," Muhammad said. "We needed this game. We couldn't go down 0-2 on this road trip."
Thank you freshmen. Thank you fans. Go Bruins!