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No Pressure

Considering the beat reporters were obsessing about JS all week, it’s not a surprise that red shirt Jr. is the top line item in today’s game reports. From Brian Dohn in DN:

Shipp broke his 0-for-20 slump from 3-point range on his first attempt, scoring the game's first points with his first trey of February. His next two 3-point attempts, though, were air balls, but he settled down and connected on 4 of 8 3-point attempts and scored 17points.

"I feel the same," Shipp said. "I knew they would start going in. You feel a lot better (with the makes), but you have to be confident and shoot the ball the same way."

Shipp also had career-high eight assists and did not turn the ball over in 36 minutes.

"I thought Josh had his best game of the year," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "When you look at it, he had 17 points and accounted for another (eight baskets), so he accounted for half our points today, which is impressive."
JS finished the game with 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 0 TOs in 36 mins. A great performance that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone here on BN. Even during his recent shooting slump (which he inevitably was going to get out of) JS was doing all the little things making his contributions to the team’s wins. Last night the shots started falling again leading him to put together one of his most complete performances of the season. Let’s hop JS keeps shooting (w/in the flow of the game) but more importantly keep doing all the other things that makes him a pivotal part of Howland’s machine.

On the topic of machine that brings us to KL, who notched his 17th double-double of the season (again from Dohn):
UCLA freshman center Kevin Love scored a game-high 18 points and had 12 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season, and 10th in the past 12 games.

"They had to pick their poison," Love said. "If we were hitting shots and they were going to double- and triple-team me inside, it was going to leave (others) open. We knocked down threes and that was the game."
As good and multidimensional our offense was, apparently things weren’t going all so well in the first 10 mins of the game (which I missed). From the OC Register:
"I think the last 10 minutes of the game we really broke it down, but the first 10 minutes were pretty ugly," said freshman Kevin Love, who finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and his 17th double-double.

"The bottom line is we didn't get it inside to the high post enough, or the low post, and we didn't do a good job of collapsing it and getting it back out," Coach Ben Howland said.

"Once we got things going, they never really got it back."
I will leave it up to those who watched those first 10 mins on whether or not our offense looked "ugly." Although I think we should also note that we beat a very good team yesterday that is well coached and can play pretty effective defense. So it shouldn’t be a total surprise if our team came out and had to go through a period of adjustment in the early going against a fired up team playing good defense.

The key was to hold the down fort on our end, and no surprise eventually it was our defense that jump started our offensive momentum:
As usual, the Bruins forged ahead with defense.

Because he was trying too hard to beat Mbah a Moute, Arizona State's James Harden missed a dunk with about 1:30 left in the half. Shipp followed the miss with a three-pointer -- a critical five-point turnaround, Howland said -- and then Collison ended the half with the three-pointer.

"Collison's three-pointer was huge for the momentum going into the halftime break," Howland said.
Bruins held the Devils to 40 percent shooting. They dominated them around glass outrebounding them by 33-19 (7 to 3 on the offensive end). And led by RW’s 4 steals they wrecked havoc in the ASU backcourt never letting their offense to get in rhythm. From Pucin’s round up again:
"Obviously their defense was excellent for 40 minutes," Arizona State Coach Herb Sendek said. "Very few things came easy for us offensively."
I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that our defensive tenacity is at a different level with LRMAM in the lineup. LRMAM only scored 3 points. However, he played as big a part in last night’s big win as JS, KL, DC and everyone else. He was guarding Harden most of the night and did a great job on the super frosh by holding him to 11 pts and never allowing him to get it going. Not to mention once again Luc’s presence allowed our guards to be so aggressive up front in putting on their lethal on ball pressure.

The only thing that bothered me a little last night was once we got our big lead in the second half we became a little too sloppy. We missed two gimmees on first breaks as RW missed a dunk in attempt to perhaps outdo his Cal/Oregon dunks, and we blew another 2 on 1 when JS tried to throw down a one handed rim rattler. You could tell Howland was a little flabbergasted in both of those sequences, and you could also tell RW must have gotten his message during the TOs when towards the end of the game he threw one down with any kind of extra flare (Donnie Mac noticed that as well).

Anyway moving on -- our guys should feel no pressure going into Sunday’s game against Zona. We accomplished last night what we needed to do in this road trip. The main goal from brutal Pac-10 road trips is to get at least a split. We got that. No matter what happens on Sunday they will be in control of their destiny with their last two regular season games at home.

All the pressure in the world is going to be on the Wildcats who are going to be fighting for their tourney lives. . So we just need to come out with the mentality of having nothing to lose and play our Ben Ball, which is control the boards, be patient on offense, and play our ferocious, attacking inside-the-jersey defense, which always leads to good results game after game. Just like Shipp who has been fairly unfazed while the traditional media around him has been engaging in obsessive, comical psycho analysis about his shooting slump … his fellow warriors should feel no pressure.