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UCLA Basketball Roundup: One Man Team Strategy Works

News and notes from UCLA basketball program after Bruins incur a bad loss on the road.

Kyle is the best player in the PAC 12, but he needs some help.
Kyle is the best player in the PAC 12, but he needs some help.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

First off even in the UCLA loss all Bruins fan have to recognize Kyle Anderson who gave it his absolute all and left it on the court.

Kyle Anderson looked ready to collapse, as his hands fell to his knees on the sideline at Utah's Huntsman Center, midway through Saturday's second half. UCLA's do-everything point guard was exhausted.

His teammates had been shooting poorly from the perimeter, and UCLA's transition defense was failing miserably. So he put the team on his back, fighting through an apparent leg injury, and was masterful.

But part of this was a strategy of the Utes and their coach. Make Kyle Anderson a scorer and shut down the rest of the team.

There's not much you can do with Kyle Anderson. UCLA's all-everything point guard is arguably the best player in the Pac-12, a nightmare to match up against on most evenings.

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak knew that. So he devised a different strategy against the Bruins. Knowing that Anderson is a pass-first guy, he decided to go ahead and let him score, but limit the players around him.

The move may be the biggest reason for the Utes defeating No. 25 UCLA 74-69 at the Huntsman Center on Saturday afternoon.

"What makes them such a dangerous offensive team is how he gets everyone involved," Krystkowiak said. "He's such a good passer that everyone gets in on the action. We just said if he scores 25 and everyone else is held in check, we will have a chance to win the game."

Rant's sports PAC writer gets some things wrong on this but the headline is correct "Kyle Anderson Should be a First Round Pick."

Regardless of how deep the draft class for the 2014 NBA Draft is, Kyle Anderson of the UCLA Bruins should be a first-round pick; he's just that much of a nightmare matchup. . . .

There has to be a team that wants a team-oriented point-forward in the draft, and Anderson is just that, an outstanding point-forward with great vision and ball handling skills. He runs an offense full of young shooters which should only help plead his case to be a first-round pick.

On the season, Anderson is averaging 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Against the Utes, he had 10 points in the first half and finished with 28 to along with seven rebounds and seven assists. He tried to do too much in a loss against the Utes, but he was the only guy on the team making any shots. Despite his success, though, his team lost 74-69 in a tough battle.

I also agree with some of what Steve Alford said:

"Utah really played well in the first half," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "We didn't. I thought we had a really bad start to this game. It wasn't the way we wanted to start the game. This is a tough turnaround. We didn't handle our first road trip, we got the split. We didn't come to get a split, we came to get a sweep."

The game was a game of runs, unfortunately until the end most of them were from the Utes:

Utah found an offensive rhythm early by attacking from the perimeter. Taylor made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and Princeton Onwas added a third long-distance basket a minute later to give the Utes a quick 9-4 lead.

UCLA turned to the same formula to erase the deficit. The Bruins caught Utah and took an 18-15 lead after Anderson buried consecutive baskets from distance to cap a 10-2 run.

It didn't take Utah much time to answer UCLA's run with a bigger and better one. The Utes ripped off 15 unanswered points to race out to a 30-18 lead with 5:53 left before halftime. Loveridge and Wright helped fuel that spurt by driving to the basket and getting layups or free throws. Each player converted a three-point play during that run.

UCLA had trouble battling back because the Bruins offense stalled after starting strong early. The Bruins shot just 31 percent (9 of 29) from the field before halftime - nearly 20 percent below their season average. The worst part is UCLA missed 15 of 18 shots over the final 11:07 of the first half.

UCLA did play hard at the end of the game:

The Bruins did put in some hard work - for nine minutes. They first cut a 15-point deficit to four at 60-56 with six minutes left and then made it a one-possession game with 22 seconds left. All it got them was a deceiving box score after the Utes (13-5, 3-3) made three of four free throws.

The loss threw the Bruins back into the Pac-12 pack and took the luster off a trip that started with a victory over Colorado on Thursday.

The finish was strong, with the Bruins' push getting them within a bucket, 71-69, with 22 seconds left. But they paid for earlier transgressions.

Kyle gets the last word for his strong game:

"It not a step in the right direction," Anderson said. "When you win that first one, you're supposed to have a lot of momentum. We came out completely opposite of that as a team."