The Bruins came out with energy, and it showed on the defensive end with Anthony Stover starting and immediately tallying a block. Tyler Honeycutt did likewise on help defense, and Brendan Lane hit a 3 almost as soon as he entered the game, which were good early signs for a UCLA team that has not been able to count on these guys so far this season.
Joshua Smith took a hard fall, but seemed to be getting at least a rebound per minute when he was in. Rather than foul trouble, it would be the result of that fall, reported as a head injury, that would limit his minutes.
Overall though, the first half was a painful affair. Cal was in the bonus with over 10 minutes left in the half and the Bruins were not far behind, and the pace of the first half slowed to a crawl (28 free throw attempts, 18 for Cal). Donnie Mac summed it up best when he said that for a game that didn't seem all that physical, there seemed to be a lot of whistles. To their credit, Cal seemed to recognize how foul happy the refs were and were content to drive the lane to
abuse the ticky-tack draw fouls and earn many (many) trips to the line. For the majority of the first half, there was the distinct impression that the Bears offense was struggling with the UCLA defense, outside of some nice plays down the stretch by Joakim Noah wannabe, Jorge Gutierrez. The Bruins meanwhile got their points the more conventional way, getting contributions from Honeycutt and Lazeric Jones from outside, and inside from Reeves Nelson, to take a 41-35 lead into the break.
With Smith out for the remainder of the game, Cal came out of the locker room determined to abuse the center position, and was predictably rewarded with more "interesting" calls, putting Lane in foul trouble. Fortunately for the Bruins, as their defense began to weaken in the middle of the second half, the offense picked up. Crisp passing from Zeke and Jerime Anderson would become a strength for a Bruin team not used to being at a disadvantage on the interior and the UCLA lead stretched to double digits. On the other end of the floor, Malcolm Lee was making Cal star Allen Crabbe's life a living hell, and for the second game in a row, the Lee-Jones-Anderson lineup got the better of their counterparts. Kind of makes you wonder why we didn't see it before Lane picked up his fourth and forced our hand. Anderson put the Bruins up 15 with 9 minutes remaining with a three pointer, Honeycutt (15 points) put in a 3 with 4 minutes left to go up 14, and it looked like UCLA would cruise to victory right?
From that point on:
Malcolm Lee picked up foul #4 (BS) and #5 (also BS), which allowed Crabbe to go off.
Cal broke out a full court press.
And thus the longest three and a half minutes of basketball (nearly half an hour in real time) I've ever watched began. Somewhere between the ridiculous bailout fouls for Cal, the endless timeouts, some clutch shooting and free throws by Zeke (24 points), the clock striking midnight (THANKS FOR THAT, FSN), and the worst job of full court press breaking I've ever seen by the Bruins, I lost the will to keep writing this recap.
TL;DR: Bruins win 86-84 on a Reeves Nelson (24 points) putback tip of a TH miss by blowing by Allen Crabbe, who had just tied the game on a 3. Maybe if he wasn't too busy celebrating after his shot, he would have boxed out. The end.
GOOD NIGHT AND GO BRUINS