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March Is A Brotherhood

So not much to take from last night's game. In terms of how our guys played we can probably take as much from that game as we did in our blowout win over the Beavers at Pauley, which is not a whole lot.

But for the stat geeks among us here are some notes courtesy of Perelman over at What's Bruin:

>> The 29 points given up by UCLA is the least since Feb. 17, 1967, when the Bruins -- with sophomore Lew Alcindor at center -- defeated Oregon in Eugene in a slowdown game, 34-25. It's the lowest number of points given up by any Bruin team in the school's NCAA Tournament history.

>> The 41-point margin is the biggest of the season for the Bruins; they defeated Idaho State, 89-49, on Dec. 15 at Pauley Pavilion.

>> The Bruins shot 47% for the game (27-57) and 40% from three-point range (8-20), but held Mississippi Valley State to just 19% on 13-66 from the field, the lowest by a Bruin opponent this season (previous, 31.3% by Michigan on Dec. 22). The Della Devils made just 13 field goals, also a season best for the Bruins, which gave up only 17 field goals to Cal State San Bernardino on Nov. 13.

>> UCLA had 50 rebounds to 29 for Mississippi Valley State today. That's a seasonal high for the Bruins (49 vs. Youngstown State on Nov. 12) and the biggest rebound margin in any game this season (previous best, 19 four times).

>> UCLA was credited with 13 blocked shots (equal to Mississippi Valley State's made field goals!), a season high; the best previous performance was 10 vs. Oregon State on Feb. 21.

>> The Bruins also forced 11 turnovers, the 16th straight game that UCLA's opponent has had 10 or more turnovers.
If I have my notes correct our 32 wins equal the number of two best seasons in our program's history. The 13 block shots was just one of the tournament record previously set by Kentucky.

Again the most significant stat of the game was none of our starters played more than RW's 26 mins. Even more importantly LRMAM got to rest his sore ankle, which will allow him to be fresh for Saturday's brutal matchup against Texas A&M. From the OC Register:
The question afterward was whether the Bruins got anything out of the game, competitively. Rest for Mbah a Moute, was the primary plus. Coach Ben Howland said on Wednesday that Mbah a Moute would start. But Keefe said that Howland told him a day earlier that he would start.

"We were going through the walk-through and he switched my shirt and put me in the rotation and afterward he came up to me and said I was starting, that we were going to try to keep Luc rested," Keefe said.

Mbah a Moute said that he still had some swelling in his ankle when leaving the Bruins' shoot-around, but that he would be able to play against the Aggies, who advanced with a victory over Brigham Young.

"I was glad I didn't play - it was good for me for next time," he said.
The only person who wasn't glad that LRMAM didn't play was none other than Brian Dohn, the beat writer for the Daily News. Yes, the Rutgers, who probably is always in cranky mood this time of year is all bent up today over the fact that (we will not provide a link to his silly rant accusing Coach Howland of "lying") Howland started JK even though he indicated the day before LRMAM would get the start against the 'Devils. Only in Dohn's world a coach doesn't have the room to change his mind based on the best interest of his players and his team, after telling clueless reporters something. We will say it again. Dohn's game reports (like this one on last night's game) are decent. However, when it comes to injecting commentary and opinionating on UCLA athletics, his posts/columns are worthless, and frankly lack credibility given what came out of him during the dubious reign of Karl Dorrell. Whatever.

Going back to the game, per Pucin in the LA Times, there was something from last night's game, Howland and his players were not happy about:
The lesson senior Lorenzo Mata-Real took was the one Coach Ben Howland must have shouted after the game.

"We have to learn not to make mistakes," he said. What mistakes did the Bruins make? "We gave them too many offensive rebounds," he said. And, indeed, the Delta Devils did have an advantage on the offensive boards, 15-12.

Love had to think a minute before coming up with his lesson learned. "It's going to be a while before a 16 seed beats a one seed," Love said. The message Howland had pounded into the Bruins was that it would be bad to have that record -- the first top-seeded team to lose to a 16.
More from Coach Howland in What's Bruin:
"I thought that our players who came off the bench did a good job and gave us good minutes. I will say this: Luc [Richard Mbah A Moute] will start on Saturday, for sure. I initially had planned on doing that and then as I thought about it, I felt comfortable that we would be able to get this one without him, after giving it more thought. I think we had a meeting here yesterday and I honestly had planned to start him today, until late last night when I had given it a lot of thought.

"In reference to James [Keefe], his play has earned him more minutes and more potential to play as we move forward into Saturday's game. We're going to need him. These guys from Texas A&M -- that was the most physical game we played in last year, here in the Wooden [Classic].

"[Joseph] Jones is just a big, strong kid inside, [Bryan] Davis is huge; they have a kid ... who comes off the bench now [Chinemelu Elonu] who's ... just so strong and athletic -- obviously DeAndre Jordan that Kevin [Love] alluded to. They have as big a front line, as athletic a front line as there is in the country. Their wings are 6-5 and 6-6, and they can really shoot it, especially [Josh] Carter. So we have our hands full and we're going to need all the bigs on our team to perform on Saturday."
And Coach Howland has every right to change his mind again and decide to bring LRMAM off the bench depending on how the situation appears to him today or tomorrow. He is the leader of our program. He is in control. He gets to call the shots. Period.

Texas A&M obviously will be a huge challenge tomorrow. I will try to post some notes on them this am before heading out to Seattle for a little vacation. I will be back Wednesday. I will see if I can pop in here via my laptop or phone. But I am sure Ajax, Meriones, Tydides, Telemachus, Menelaus, Achilles et al. will keep this place rocking while our Ben Ball warriors keep approaching this tourney one game at a time.

And just in case anyone need to know the motto of our Ben Ball Warriors for this special time of the year:

Photo Credit:Gina Ferazzi/LA Times

That motto applies to the entire Bruin Nation.

Onward. Time to zero in on the Aggies.