I’m not going to say that tonight’s game at Fifth Third Arena against a 9-2 Cincinnati Bearcats team was a must win, but it was pretty close. Cincinnati had a KenPom.com ranking of No. 33, while the UCLA Bruins came in at No. 48. The Bruins desperately needed a quality win to start building any kind of resume for a potential opportunity to play basketball in March.
The Bruins started out the game with good energy, and their length looked to bother the Bearcats early (I said EARLY) as the Bruins were up 17-9. But as we have grown accustomed, the Bruins could not sustain things and resorted to their horrible half-court offense and the Bearcats went on an 17-2 run to take the lead 26-19 at the 10:02 mark of the first half, and the rest of the game just went down hill from there.
The first half of basketball continued to show that UCLA has absolutely no clue what to do when defensive pressure is applied. They fumbled passes, gave up their dribble too soon, turned the ball over, and looked absolutely clueless as to how they could attack the Bearcats’ defense, man or zone. The Bruins ended the half with nine turnovers with Jaylen Hands accounting for three of them.
Jarron Cumberland torched the UCLA defense and pretty much got to anywhere he wanted and scored in multiple ways, ending the half with 19 points.
The Bearcats dominated the Bruins in the paint, outscoring the Bruins in the half 18-8, and outrebounded the Bruins 21-13. These two things should not happen with a team that has the length of these Bruins.
The Bruins went into the half down 48-31 in what can only be explained as the way the 2018-2019 Bruins play when they face quality basketball teams.
UCLA started out the second half in a zone but, unlike the Bruins, the Bearcats had a plan to attack the zone. The Bearcats continuously flashed their big to the middle, fed him the ball and they initiated their offense off that. Like John Thompson said, as he described the ease in which the Bearcats attacked the UCLA zone, “simple game”. Well, it was simple for the Bearcats.
The UCLA zone, and a well-coached Cincinnati team knowing how to attack it, allowed the Bearcats to stretch their lead early in the second half, and a Justin Jenifer three-point shot forced Coach Alford to call a timeout, as the Bearcats went up 62-39 at the 15:45 mark.
The rest of the second half was about as unwatchable as you could get, as the Bearcats’ largest lead of the game was 31 points. Cincinnati toyed with the Bruins for the rest of the game and ended up winning 93-64.
The Bearcats were led by Jarron Cumberland, as he dropped 25 points on the Bruins.
Next up for the Bruins is a neutral site game this Saturday, December 22 at Chicago’s United Center against Ohio State. The game is set to tip-off at noon PT.
I just want to put a smile on our faces in light of tonight’s debacle. Let’s reminisce shall we?
UCLA Player Grades
Moses Brown: F
The downward trend of his game continues. He has a lot to improve upon on both ends of the court and strength to gain. His meaningless points in garbage time did not inflate his grade.
Jaylen Hands: F
Turnovers and points scored were equal. 12 assists was nice though.
Prince Ali: F
I have to keep this real, watching Ali play is absolutely the worst part of me watching UCLA basketball this year. In an early preseason article, I said he was the x-factor for this team this year, and so far he is the F factor, because it seems I can give him a F almost each game.
Kris Wilkes: C
Wilkes was about the only guy that showed up on the offensive side of the ball.
Jalen Hill: F
I expected him to be a factor against a physical team like the Bearcats. Seemed like Hill hibernated in this game.
Chris Smith: F
This hype of Smith being some “ready for the NBA” player has not been hype that I have bought. He has a lot to work on and was absolutely a non-factor in the game tonight. His offensive game is extremely limited as he has seemed to just hang around the perimeter. With his length and athletic ability I would like to see his game extend to the low post as well.
Jules Bernard: F
Over dribbles constantly and is good for one or two travels a game. I still like his game though and see a lot of upside with him. Bernard>Ali
David Singleton: F
Just not a factor in the game.
Cody Riley : C
I love his game, but playing against an aggressive and hard-nosed team like the Bearcats should give Riley an idea of what he needs to bring to the Bruins. Their physicality was on another level, and something I am sure that Riley has not experienced yet. Good learning opportunity for him.