Seriously, east coast Bruin fans that stayed up to watch this team really earned some points tonight.
With three minutes remaining in the game, and a five point cushion over Arizona State, most teams and their fanbases would assume that their team will come up with a clutch shot or a defensive stop or two and send the fans into the night happy with another win. But Bruin fans know better.
In a game marked by the hilarious return of jungleball throughout most of the second half, it was only fitting that the last three minutes of this game follow suit. In a rash of careless, sloppy play compounded by soon-to-be-ex-Coach Howland's prevent offense strategy, UCLA set the stage for Jahii Carson's individual athleticism to shine. Carson's 7 points to close out the second half sent the house cat Bruins into an overtime frame with bad memories of what happened the last time they had to play extra minutes in Old Pauley Under Glass (the Southern Cal debacle).
In overtime, what had been jungleball devolved into two exhausted teams barely hanging on. It was ugly. Layups were missed, passes went awry, and the Bruins made just enough of their free throws to finally put away an NIT bound Sun Devil squad.
As it's also late here, I'll just finish up with some notes:
Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams, and Kyle Anderson had 21, 22, and 21 points respectively. This marks Anderson's career high in points. I'm running out of ways to say that the freshmen are great.
A mixed bag for Larry Drew II. He showed a lot of smarts after picking up his second foul less than 3 minutes into the game and managed to go the rest of the game without picking up another. He came close to a third a couple of minutes later, but he did a great job of staying in control. He also recorded 13 assists, but had an uncharacteristic 7 turnovers, and as the point guard, was basically responsible for the jungleball second half and not keeping his team in check.
Tony Parker is just straight up better than avi Wear. That he only got 10 minutes after playing the best interior defense this team has seen all year is a travesty. He had foul trouble. This is true, but he was able to play most of his minutes when the team went to a zone (out of necessity, not choice, as avi was in foul trouble as well). I don't think it's a coincidence that this also marked the beginning of the Bruins' comeback from an early deficit. I'll trade avi's occasional points, and far less occasional misses, for Parker's interior presence. Clearly we already have the horses to get our points. Now we need to stop teams from walking all over us inside, and avi isn't the man to get that done.