UCLA’s bad defense finally caught up to them this afternoon at Pauley Pavilion as the Bruins lost to Arizona, 96-85.
What makes this game even worse is that UCLA didn’t look like it belonged on the same court as the Wildcats for most of the game as UCLA only led for a total of 6:12.
Most of the first half was competitive. The teams tied five times in the first half and, through the first sixteen and a half minutes of play, neither team led by more than 6 points.
The turning point of the game came with 5:22 seconds left in the first half when Parker Jackson-Cartwright hit a three-pointer to break a 29-29 tie and give the Wildcats a 3-point lead.
After that shot, Arizona would close out the half with 16 points while holding UCLA to only 8 and the Wildcats took an 11-point lead into the locker room. It was only the second time all season that the Bruins have trailed at the half.
But, today, they were playing Arizona, not Cal State Northridge. The Wildcats would stretch that lead to 14, the Bruins’ biggest deficit of the season. The Bruins made a second half comeback that fell flat as UCLA was only able to get as close as two points down with 11:28 to go before Arizona pushed the lead back to 7 points with 9:44 left.
Over the next minute, the Bruins would get as close as 4 points down twice but Arizona just manhandled them in the last nine minutes and pushed the lead back into double digits.
The team looked outmatched most of the game. They didn’t shoot well all game long. Overall, UCLA missed more three-pointers today then Arizona took. But, while the shooting was terrible at times, it was the Bruins’ lack of defense that really hurt. Arizona’s offense basically scored at will and UCLA looked unprepared for most of the game.
If you took the Arizona players and put UCLA jerseys on them, their offense would have looked a lot like what Bruin fans see from UCLA most games. But, Arizona plays tough defense and they forced UCLA to take a lot of bad shots.
If UCLA could have done this, the Bruins might have been able to win this game. But, when you put this team up against a team with another fast-paced offense who can play tough defense, it would be foolish to expect UCLA to win.
And, that’s on Steve Alford because his team’s defensive issues are one remnant of last year’s team which hasn’t gotten much better this year.