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UCLA – FINALLY – Cruises To an Easy Victory by Trashing New Mexico State

Well looky here. The Bruins finally – FINALLY – cruise to an easy win during non conference season by blowing out a hapless New Mexico State (3-7) team in (sparse) Pauley. Bruins hit the century mark with a final score of 100-68, running up the Bruin record to 3-6. Here is the box score. Bruins got off to a great start with a huge run early on propelling them to a 21 point half time lead. They never looked back. Just as it was in the glory days of classic Ben Ball warriors, it was fueled by a tenacious defense (holding the Aggies to 38.9% shooting for the night).

The stat line was dominating for the Blue and Gold in all facets of the game, as Howland’s team flashed memories of good old days with a blistering pace of shooting (55.2%) while controlling the boards with a 39-28 edge in rebounding margin. The MVP of tonight’s game was Malcolm Lee with a team leading 20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 stills and going 4 for 5 from the FT line.  Lee finally had a night which lived up to some of the hype we were hearing about him before he arrived in Westwood and during this off-season. He looked sharp, smooth and CONFIDENT while driving to the bucket and creating his own shots. Lee’s effort was supplemented by Michael Roll who was in rhythm all night with 14 points and 3 assists.  Reeves Nelson continued to solidify his early cult hero status by chipping in with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals (with an extra patch to cover up another fresh wound under his black eye).

As for the two players who have been in our cross hairs this week, Jerime Anderson had a solid night while Nikola Dragovic was average. Anderson’s performance was encouraging to say the least as he scored 13 points, dished out 7 assist, while turning over the rock just once. Dragovic wasn’t overwhelming as he scored 9 points, shooting a mediocre 3 for 9 from the field and pulled in 4 rebounds. Noting to write home about. I can only hope Anderson will build on this in his next game but then again don’t want to get my hopes up too high before seeing how next few games develop.

In general the Bruins did come out with a sense or energy we haven’t seen from them most of this season. They came out and showed tenacity and effort on both ends of the court getting out to a huge lead on. The entire team looked confident and seemed determined to answer the questions clouding the program for last few days. However, before everyone gets too jazzed about this victory, we should have a sense of reality check. That said, at least for a night during this early season there were some feelings of relief and confidence vibing through Howlandwood.

After all these are games that we should win by this kind of margin. We shouldn’t be jumping up and down right now with easy victories over cupcake programs that should be the norm in Westwood. Was tonight encouraging? Definitely.  At the same time we were also encouraged after "lively" performances against Butler and Kansas that were followed up respectively with disgusting losses to Long Beach State and Mississippi State.

For the team’s sake, let’s hope they stay even keeled after this win and don’t get too comfortable. They will need to build on this and come out with higher level of intensity and focus, if they want to pull out a huge win this weekend against Notre Dame. Couple of other notes before I close out on my end late tonight/early morning here on the East Coast.

I am enjoying watching Tyler Honeycutt. He is a natural. Watching him glide around the court so effortlessly makes me think of him as a combination of DJ and LRMAM. He is still shaking the rust off his game and happy playing the role as a facilitator for his team-mates rather than a creator. Still he contributed tonight what seemed like an effortless 14 points, 4 rebounds and going 6 for 6 from the FT line.  You can sense he has all the tools. He just needs more time to get stronger and also time on the court.

Lastly, it’s a shame that James Keefe left the game early on with a shoulder dislocation (that’s what we heard tonight) injury. He was playing solid – defensively – before he left the game. Hopefully, he gets healed up and can return at some point this season.

With that, I will leave the rest of analysis up to you. Fire away with your post game thoughts.