Douglas C. Pizac-USA Today Sport
The blizzard outside wasn't the only thing frosty in the state of Utah tonight
As much as I'd like to say that "ice cold" refers to the Bruins' clutchness as a team and the ice water running through their veins, that was not the case tonight. The Bruins and Utes put on a close game that wasn't particularly good. The offensive fireworks that we're used to from Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams that make these games watchable must have been left on the team bus or in Los Angeles somewhere, because after going 8-26 between them, UCLA was left to rely on Travis Wear down the stretch to put away one of the worst teams in the Pac-12.
Fortunately Travis was up to the task. The less annoying Wear brother tabbed 10 points and 6 rebounds after halftime, mostly in the stretch run as Utah clawed its way back into the contest after trailing by 12 in the middle of the second half. It must also be noted that following that 12 point lead, Ben Howland called another of his momentum killing timeouts. Until that, it was looking as if UCLA would have a rare easy win, but as we have seen repeatedly, the Bruins never make things that simple.
As the game wound down, UCLA seemed to completely abandon any pretense of playing defense or rebounding, at one point giving Utah 3 chances to tie or take the lead late in the game. That Utah was even that close is a bad sign going forward. What it tells me is that all it takes is an off night for Muhammad for any team to take us to the wire: even in one of the easiest road games on the schedule.
The best thing that can be said, obviously, is that we won, but forget any talk about turning the corner or whatever inane platitudes people might use to excuse this mess. This one was ugly, and that effort was unacceptable. Bring that on Saturday and Colorado wins going away. As much as we love what the freshmen have brought this season, their first true road game was not one to write home about, and gut check time is coming up in less than 48 hours. All we can do now is hope they're up to the challenge.