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UCLA v. UCI Preview: A Tale of Three Tylers

Tyler Lamb #1 will get the start tonight for a mildly injuried Tyler Honeycutt as UCLA plays UCI.   (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Tyler Lamb #1 will get the start tonight for a mildly injuried Tyler Honeycutt as UCLA plays UCI. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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Tyler Honeycutt is hurt and will miss tonight's game but it is not a serious injury:

UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, will miss Thursday's game against UC Irvine with a mild shoulder sprain, but the injury is not expected to keep him out long term, coach Ben Howland said Wednesday.

Honeycutt, averaging 14.9 points and eight rebounds, had an MRI and X-rays on the shoulder, both of which showed no significant damage, Howland said.

"Everything was good, which I'm really thankful for," Howland said. "It'll take a few days to get it back, but it's not a long-term thing is what I'm happy about."

Howland said he was "hopeful" Honeycutt would recover in time to play UCLA's Pac-10 opener next Wednesday against Washington State.

Tyler Lamb will start for Honeycutt.  This will be Lamb's second start (he started for Malcolm Lee against Pacific as well).  Lamb had argubably his best game against MSU which included a nice steal and a good baseline drive for a dunk.  CBH commented:  

In comes Lamb, who played his biggest minutes total since game three and drew his coach's praise.

The freshman out of Mater Dei had two impressive dunks, including a steal and coast-to-coast slam, and a key steal with 2.3 seconds left in the first half that led to two free throws.

"I thought Tyler Lamb played very good," Howland said. "He played solid taking care of the ball, three assists to one turnover. He's going to play a lot more (today)."

This should be a good chance for Tyler Lamb to play with the starters.  There will likely come a key point in the season when Lamb will be playing crunch time.   Although, Lamb is not the sixth man now, he is a key reserve so it is a great opportunity for Lamb.

Speaking of the sixth man, Brendan Lane, CBH finally commented on what many here have been saying.  Lane is argubably UCLA's streadist and most consistent player.  While Lane still gets out muscled occasionally it is never because of lack of effort and he is arguably the best help defender.  Lane leads UCLA in blocks and because of him and others UCLA is #17 in the country in block shots.   CBH commented:

"It's almost like I take him for granted because he's so consistent night in and night out," Howland said. "He's really been very solid and I'm just really pleased with Brendan and how he's played for us."

Last player note, which I am not sure I agree with CBH on is Reeves Nelson.  We can't blame Reeves when he takes the open three because CBH has continued to give him the green light:

Howland said Reeves Nelson still had his consent to shoot three-pointers even though the power forward had made only one of his last nine attempts, and that was a banked-in shot against Cal Poly.

"I'm not going to tell him not to shoot it when he's wide open," Howland said of Nelson, who has made three of 12 three-point shots this season.


UCLA has one common opponent with UCI, Pepperdine.  Pepperdine beat UCI in their last game.  The game was close despite UCI only shooting 31%.  UCI also lost to USC earlier in the year.  UCI was dominated on the boards in both games, with USC winning the battle of the Boards 44-26.  However, they held both teams to under 37% shooting. 

Part of UCI's rebounding problems is shown by who leads them in rebounds, their starting off guard.  

Senior guard Darren Moore leads UCI in scoring (16.9), rebounding (7.0), steals (24) and field-goal percentage (.536) through the season's first 11 games.

He scored a career-high 30 points, hitting 9 of 9 shots, in the 90-82 win at San Diego Dec. 1 when he added 11 rebounds. Moore has three double-doubles this season.

Mike Wilder there second leading rebounder is 6'2" but maybe taller if you count his 70s hair.  However, UCI is playing a bit better  since getting back their best inside player in Eric Wise

Wise, a member of the All-Big West Conference preseason team, missed five games this season with a hip injury sustained in the USC game Nov. 13.

He is averaging 9.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in four games this season.

But in reality UCI is a small guard heavy team that UCLA should have no problem with and Tyler Lamb starting should not hurt UCLA.  In fact this is a game which Tyler Trapani and the other walks on should play in garbage time. 

However, this is a UCLA game coming off an inconsistent effort against a bad MSU team playing on two days rest (remember they were 2-8 last year on 2 days or less rest).  They are without their leading scorer and rebounder (Tyler Honeycutt).  So as was discussed yesterday, UCLA should win this game easily but not if they take UCI too lightly. 

Here's hoping we don't miss Tyler Honeycutt, Tyler Lamb continues to play well, and Tyler Trapani gets two minutes at the end of a blow out.