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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: “A Clean Spot on a Pig Rolling in Mud”

UCLA’s offense is offensive in 80-67 loss to Southern Cal that was not that close.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Southern California
UCLA Bruins guard Prince Ali reacts after missing a shot during the second half against the Southern Cal.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

This is the easiest game of the year to explain what happen. The UCLA Bruins’ defense in the first half was decent. UCLA forced nine turnovers, out-rebounded the Southern Cal Trojans by seven and held them to 41% shooting after a rough start. They could have easily been winning in the first half, but let’s discuss the offense. Here are a few excerpts from the Daily Bruin first half story by Hanson Wang:

Before a single minute passed, sophomore guard Chris Smith fumbled a fast-break pass with no one within five feet of him.

Later in the first half, redshirt junior guard Prince Ali airballed a trail 3-pointer on another fast-break possession. . . .

UCLA particularly struggled to convert on its opponent’s turnovers. Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands nearly airballed a wing 3-pointer on a 2-on-1 fast break with four minutes remaining in the first half.

And that was the better half!

In the second half, Southern Cal’s offense got going and the game was over. Wang writes in his full game story:

Once again, the zone defense was impenetrable.

Not UCLA’s, against which USC made 16-of-30 field goal attempts in the second half and shot 46.9 percent overall.

The Bruins (10-8, 3-2 Pac-12) struggled again to generate open looks against a 2-3 zone defense, shooting under 40 percent from the field during the majority of their 80-67 loss to the Trojans (10-8, 3-2) on Saturday. . . .

Even against no defense, UCLA’s shots clanked iron much more often that it glided through nylon and twine.

It is not just bad. It is the worst I have ever seen a UCLA play on offense. Ever. Go back to the worst teams of Hazzard or Alford and they were better on offense. Howland’s bad teams were weak on defense and mediocre on offense. This team is bad at everything on offense. Let’s take a series of quotes from Thuc Nhi Ngyuen’s article in the Orange County Register.

  • On three point shooting:

The Bruins (10-8, 3-2 Pac-12) were 5 of 22 from 3-point range Saturday and shooting 27.7 percent from beyond the arc in the past two games, both losses.

UCLA’s lone made 3-pointer in the first half gave the Bruins a brief one-point lead after they fell behind 16-4 early.

  • On turning the ball over:

UCLA had 20 turnovers Saturday and is averaging 17.8 per game in Pac-12 play.

  • On not passing:

No UCLA player had more than four assists as the Bruins had just 13 as a team, their third straight game with 13 assists or fewer.

And for free throw shooting let’s turn to another beat writer, Ben Bolch of the LA Times:

Center Moses Brown scored a career-low two points to go with his seven rebounds, three blocks and some ribbing from the game emcee.

Before he stepped to the free-throw line in the first half, the emcee asked the crowd, “Hey, do we even need to make noise?”

Brown went on to miss the free throw, part of a zero-for-six showing from the line. He’s making 33.3% of his free throws for a team that is making 61.1%, tied with South Alabama for No. 343 in the country.

The offense is more than just bad. It is embarrassing. The defense is okay and even good at times. But, as both writers detail, this team can’t run a break, shoot from distance, hit free throws, or even pass the ball without turning it over. Usually I put quotes from the players and the coach at this point. Not this time. It is all babble about moving the ball and not turning it over.

Ben Bolch gets the last word:

Finding an offensive catalyst among UCLA’s starters was like pinpointing a clean spot on a pig rolling in mud.

Go Bruins.