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UCLA Basketball Roundup: Lee, Rebounds and BYU

The Good news.  We won.  The Bad News.  As Tydides said in his post game, we only played 20 good minutes.  UC Davis out scored us in the second half.  (However, some will say that was because of one hot shooter on Davis.  Regardless of that I still think the energy of the first half was not there in the second half.).

More good news.  Malcolm Lee had a nice first half and hit an important shot in the second half

His 15-point performance, though, was his second-highest scoring output of the season, after a 23-point outburst in the Bruins' 89-85 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the preseason NIT third-place game.

"He really shot it well, shot it with confidence," Coach Ben Howland said. "When he cut the lead late in the game, he hit a big 3. He's worked very hard on his shot, so it's nice to see him get his just rewards for it."

It is good to see Malcolm get on track and it should not be overlooked.  Malcolm works hard and hopefully he can keep it up Saturday against BYU.

The Aggies coach also complimented one thing that is sometimes overlooked on this team.  An advantage this UCLA team will have this year likely in every game: 

For Aggies coach Gary Stewart, the Bruins provided a unique kind of opponent than Cal, which earned a 74-62 victory over Davis on Dec. 1.

"They present different types of challenges," said Stewart, who added UCLA's "competitiveness on the backboards" impressed him.

"You've got a guy like Josh Smith in the interior," Stewart said of the 6-foot-10, 305-pound freshman. "Josh is a different deal with Nelson, Tyler Honeycutt and Brendan Lane.

"Those guys collectively are as good at rebounding as anybody we've played all year."

While defense, Lee, and energy was important, this team needs to dominant the boards if it is going to win games like this the way it should.  UCLA led 40-27 at halftime and was out rebounding UC Davis 26-13 and winning second chance points 12-2.  In the second half Davis "won" 40-34 barely lost rebounds 16-18, although UCLA still won second chance points 4-10.  While people will focus on Smith, not many teams have a 3 who can rebound like Tyler Honeycutt.  We need to win the battle of the boards by a big margin going forward to be a good team.

More on the second half let down.  In the first half UC Davis shot 37.5, in the second they were much better.

UC Davis shot 50 percent from the field in the second half, 55.6 percent from the 3-point line to cut the Bruin lead to 48-41 with 12:58 left, giving UCLA an Ivy League education in the process.

The Aggies’ Princeton offense repeatedly caught the Bruins out of position, opening up the passing lanes for a series of easy baskets.

"A lot of breakdowns," Howland said.

The Bruins need 40 minutes if they are going to beat BYU.  Tyler Honeycutt recognizes the problem, hopefully the rest of the Bruins do as well and effort won't be an issue on Saturday in the must win BYU game

The matchup with the Cougars will be the Bruins' last tough test before Pac-10 play begins Dec. 29 against Washington State. UCLA needs a big win for its resume, as none of its victories have come against top programs.

"I would say we haven't done well, we've just come out with victories," Honeycutt said. "This is real important. They have a great player, a great shooter who we'll have to keep an eye on."

Go Bruins!