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Showdown Thursday ...

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Storyline is set for Thursday night. We win then we clinch at least a tie for first place in Pac-10. We lose - then Sunday is a game which becomes a must win game to get tie for first place or we could be staring down the possibility of a 4-way tie for second place. Anyway you look at it - Thursday night is it. UnderBruin has a detailed analysis of the Pac-10 race here, but the bottom line is we must win Thursday night if we are hoping for to stay on track for our first Pac-10 regular season title in almost a decade.

As I wrote after the game, Luc was the key to our win last night. Our freshman rebounding machine also led the team in scoring. Here is Dohn on the freshman playing the biggest role on Senior day:

On Senior Day, freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played the biggest role, returning to his rebounding and scoring duties to post his first double-double in a month.

He matched Afflalo for team-high honors with 14 points, and added a team-leading 10 rebounds as UCLA erased a 28-23 halftime deficit.

The role of rebounding machine is a change in style for Mbah a Moute. He wasn't asked to do it much in high school, but is easily UCLA's leading rebounder at 8.5 per game.

"It wasn't like I had to rebound or anything (in high school)," Mbah a Moute said. "I was just rebounding because I needed the ball. In college, it's different. Coach (Ben) Howland, from the beginning, he told me he needed me to rebound. So I made it personal."
The game seemed like pretty much a replay of Thursday night's game against Oregon State. We were excruciating in the first half before exploding in the second.  This is somewhat disconcerting because we cannot afford to get off to slow starts like we did against the Oregon schools on the road against Cal and Stanford. That is not going to help us. A slow, sloppy, disorganized, uninspiring start killed us against USC, and if we go back to the same routine - that won't bode well for us this Thursday or Saturday.

The key for us this week is going to be stay aggressive on offense and quiet simply make our outside shots. We shot very well in second halves of our last 2 games. If we can find the shooting touch (I am looking at  Arron, Jordan, Michael, and may be Ced) beyond the arc right out of the gate against Cal - that will give us some breathing room inside against Cal. Also, perhaps Ced's presence against Cal is going to help since he was not available in the first game.

Part of me wants to think back to our losses against Cal, Washington (both games), and USC, and think how much those games hurt. But can't do that right now.  We have been playing really well on the road this whole season except for that bad misfire in South Central. Lets hope Jordan and Arron come out like assassins this week. This is it. They have all done a remarkable job of changing the tone and attitude of UCLA hoops from those dark Lavin years - this could be the week we take things to a whole new level.  Can't wait for Thursday night. GO BRUINS.