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UCLA Bruins Lose Uneven Performance Against Colorado Buffs, 84-73

Unfortunately for UCLA fans, the season is still not over.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at UCLA Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I’m just going to start this thing off with a picture.

LOL. I’m a genius.

You could probably split hairs on whether an 11-point loss at home counts as a blowout, but, no matter how you look at it, the UCLA Bruins lost another winnable home game, this time to the Colorado Buffaloes by the score of 84-73.

This really was a game that Colorado controlled from the opening tip. The Buffaloes led this game for a total 36:28 of game time, while UCLA managed only a paltry 34 seconds in the lead. The Bruins did an amazing job of letting Colorado get open looks from distance, leading to the Buffaloes shooting 13 of 24 (54.2%) from three-point range and 28 of 52 (53.8%) from the floor in total. The Bruin defense really was the difference in this game, as UCLA was actually pretty good at limiting turnovers with only 12 turnovers all game, and they outscored Colorado 15-8 on points off turnovers. But when you’re shooting that well and getting that many open looks, you can minimize those issues.

The offense equally had issues, starting with Kris Wilkes, who was an abysmal 3 of 11 from the floor, to go along with only one rebound and one assist in 28 minutes. Prince Ali put on one hell of a disappearing act, scoring only two points on 1 of 6 shooting, to go along with three turnovers. When two of your top scorers combine for only 10 points on 4 of 17 shooting, you’re going to have a problem.

I can’t really blame Jaylen Hands for this one. He was actually pretty in-control and didn’t force too many shots until the game got out of hand. Chris Smith, as well, had a surprisingly great game, scoring 14 points on 7 of 12 shooting, to go along with three assists to only one turnover in 30 minutes of play. Moses Brown had one of his best games, putting up 17 points and collecting eight rebounds while limiting his fouls.

But, again, the story of this game was UCLA’s lack-of defense and it was the difference. Only nine more games to go until this season is mercifully over.

Moses Brown led the team with 17 points and eight rebounds. Jaylen Hands led the team with six assists. Shane Gatling led Colorado with 28 points.

Three Takeaways

  1. Player of the Game: Chris Smith - I could have given this to Moses Brown pretty easily, but Smith’s performance in this game was incredibly good, especially considering how bad he’s looked this season. Smith played a team-high 30 minutes, and it made sense as he was efficient from the field while chipping in multiple assists and rebounds. The best sign was that he never seemed to force things, instead looking to take what the defense was giving him. Honestly, if Kris Wilkes played anywhere near the level that Smith did in this game, UCLA might have won.
  2. The Big Problem: Zone Defense and the Three-Point Line - At one point, Colorado used three passes to get the ball from one corner of the arc to the other, all passing along the perimeter. Each pass could have led to an open shot. It just happened that the last past into the other corner led to the most open and efficient one. UCLA’s inability to defend the perimeter was almost pathological in this game and I think I’d like to see UCLA switch to man defense at times, if only to give me something new to get angry at.
  3. Quick Shout Out to Moses Brown - Ok, I didn’t give him PotG, but he still had a fantastic game and I just wanted to recognize it as such. Also, this game was such a nothing burger that it was either recognize Brown or talk about Josh Rosen being in the building.

UCLA next plays on Saturday, when the Bruins host the Utah Utes. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 pm PT.

Go Bruins.