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UCLA Hoops Roundup: Bruins Play 35 Minutes and 2 Seconds

We won.  To the pessimists and cynics keep that in mind. We won without Josh Smith.  We won, without our best defender Malcolm Lee at the end.  In the postgame radio interview CBH talked about the team's effort  and mentioned how he was happy with it for the first 35 minutes.  Of course those last 5 minutes saw a UCLA lead as high as 14 go down to a tie with 10 seconds left.  But CBH was also happy with the effort of Reeves Nelson who after playing 37 minutes, managed to run down the floor to tip in the game winner with 2 seconds left. 

Maybe this twwl article sums it up

This team, the one Howland has been coaching every waking moment the NCAA rules allow him to the past two seasons, is going to have to win the hard way. . . ..

"We just keep trying to add little stepping stones," forward Tyler Honeycutt said. "Just keep learning and executing. I think every game we're going forward, whether it's a win or loss. After our losses, we watch a lot of film and learn what we did wrong. After a win, it's the same thing." . . .

"I'm pretty sure everyone who left early was listening in their cars going, WHAT?" Honeycutt joked afterward. " 'They tied it? What?' ". . .

Asked afterward how to teach a team to have poise in tense, endgame situations such as Thursday, he [Howland]  said simply, "By doing it."

This was a team effort.  And the team's youth and immaturity showed in the last four minutes.  But they won and they played better for most of the game.

While Reeves was player of the game, the leader was once again Zeke Jones. 

Nelson wasn’t the only Bruin with a record scoring night. Junior guard Lazeric Jones also poured in a career-high 24 points and hit five free throws in the final minute to help secure the win.
"He’s making plays down the stretch," Howland said of his point guard.

This is not a UCLA team with a Russell Westbrooks or an AA.  But one person who measures up to them on the defensive side is Malcolm Lee.  Malcolm Lee again shut down the other team's hot scorer.  If Lee does not foul out, the frantic Cal comeback may never have happened because Allen Crabbe does not score like he did. 

Allen Crabbe – the high-scoring Cal freshman who finished with 17 points – tied the game at 84 with a 3-pointer. Crabbe scored 13 of his points in the final 3:20 after UCLA junior guard Malcolm Lee – who hounded him the entire game – fouled out.

Or this:

Crabbe was stymied by the Bruins' Malcolm Lee the entire night and did not score his first field goal of the game until 6:34 remaining in the second half. The Los Angeles freshman, returning home for the first time as a Cal player, then exploded, scoring 13 of his 17 points with under 3:30 left in the contest.

Lee's performances are all the more impressive when you consider he does not have a good help defense around him.  AA and RW were leaders of great defensive teams, ML IS the only great defender on this team.  

Next, UCLA won because they shot 3s better than CAL and made CAL pay for packing in their zone. 

It's possible to suggest UCLA won this game behind the three-point line as its marksmen converted 10 of 24 shots for 30 points to a mere three for Cal on Crabbe's game-tying shot.

And the guy who led UCLA in 3s was none other than Tyler Honeycutt (Bold in original):
Tyler Honeycutt had his best game in a month

Honeycutt has been struggling with his shooting because of an injured elbow, but was sharp Thursday, when he had 15 points on five of nine shooting, including four of six on three-point attempts.

Honeycutt had made only five of 21 three-point attempts in his previous six games and was averaging only 10.9 points since injuring his elbow Dec. 2 against Kansas. His 15 points are the most he's scored since he had 17 Dec. 18 against Brigham Young.

"It felt good," Honeycutt said. "I’ve been playing through it the whole time and it hasn’t bothered me. I just wasn’t taking as many shots. I've just got to do what I’m doing, just be a little more aggressive."
Next comes Reeves Nelson.  I don't think Reeves' effort can be underestimated.  He played a good game at both ends of the floor.  And he managed the tip in with 2 seconds running down the court despite playing 37 minutes.  It is interesting to read what Cal thought of his play:
Reeves Nelson shoots, spins, steals and barges. He dunks, drives and deliberately forces contact.

Most importantly, Reeves Nelson hustles; and if not for that, the Cal men's basketball team could have stolen a game away from UCLA on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion. . . .

Aside from his efficient scoring and brutish rebounding display, Nelson recorded two steals, forced several other turnovers, and even commandeered the fast break on two different occasions.

"He has a good motor," forward Harper Kamp said. "When he catches, you know he's going to the rim, but it's still hard to stop him at times. He's really physical and he works really well with their offense."

And lastly even though he only played 6 minutes, Josh Smith showed what could do and got Sander-Frison in foul trouble.  Smith drew two fouls on Sander Frisson, had 5 rebounds, and four points in 6 minutes.  We need him:

UCLA head coach Ben Howland said Joshua Smith has a mild concussion and will be reevaluated tomorrow. He will be a game-time decision on Saturday against Stanford.

Lastly this was a team effort.  The bench, although not mentioned in the stories, made a contribution as well.  Jerime hit a big three and had 5 assists.  (Will we see more 3 guard lineups?)  Lane broke out of his offensive slump and scored in a multitude of ways including a 3 and a tip in.  Stover showed his athletic ability on defense. 

Yes this is a frustrating team to watch at a point every game, but right now it is also a winning team. 

Go Bruins.