January 1, 2010

UCLA Wins Its PAC-10 Opener

UCLA opened the Pac 10 with a narrow win over Arizona State 72 to 70 in Pauley today. The Bruins started strong, hitting most of their three pointers while confusing the Sun Devils by playing a solid zone defense for most of the game.

After going down by five points at the 15:20 mark in the first half, UCLA went on a 13 point run to lead by nine points, 23 to 14 with ten minutes to go in the half. The Bruins wound up leading at the half by eleven, 42 to 31.

The Bruins shot 83.3 percent from the floor (15 for 18) and an amazing 80% from the 3-point line as Nikola Dragovic hit all five of his threes. Michael Roll was 2 for 2 and Malcolm Lee went 1 for 3. They also had 13 assists and only seven turnovers at the half while grabbing 12 rebounds. Arizona State shot 44.4 percent, with nine assists and three turnovers.

The second half was much more of a struggle after the Bruins went up by 16 points 47 to 31 at the 18:13 mark. The Sun Devils seemed to figure out how to attack UCLA's zone defense and made a very strong run at the Bruins to bring the score down to only one point 54 to 53 with 8:21 left in the game.

UCLA bumped their lead back to nine points at the 1:53 mark but Arizona St. was able to come back again to be behind by only two points with 36 seconds left in the game. UCLA scored another basket on a twisting lay-up by Lee to lead by four and Arizona State got the last hoop with 22 seconds on the clock. The Sun Devils had the last shot with just a few seconds left but Jerime Anderson blocked Jerren Shipp's three point attempt and UCLA escaped with a very important victory.

For the game, Dragovic led the scoring for the Bruins with 23 points, tying his season best performance on 7 for 11 from the floor and 6 for 8 from the 3-point line. Lee had 16 points on 5 for 8 shooting and 1 for 4 from 3-point land. Roll had 12 points on 4 for 5 shooting and 4 for 4 of his threes. Reeves Nelson and Anderson both had 10 points and six rebounds. James Keefe picked up one point on a free throw. Anderson only had two turnovers and is making his assist to turnover average look much better in recent games.

Rihards Kuksiks had 15 points, all in the first half for the Sun Devils. Jamelle McMillan and Derek Glasser both added 12 points. UCLA shot a fine 62.9 percent for the game and 64.7 percent from the 3-point line for an unusual twist on the stats. Arizona State shot 45.5 percent for the game and 37.5 percent of their threes.

The Bruins ended up with 14 turnovers and 17 assists. Their bench only scored one point as the starters got the big majority of minutes. This was a big win for the Bruins as they get a victory in the PAC-10 opener.

UCLA coach, Ben Howland said that he was proud of his team and that the zone helped us. He was critical of some big turnovers in the first half and thought that they should have had a bigger lead. He complimented Arizona State for hitting big shots at the end of their possessions.

UCLA will practice on Friday and do walk-throughs. "We started a new season" said Howland. UCLA signee Tyler Lamb was at the game wearing a big UCLA sweatshirt. He scored 20 points for Mater Dei last night as the Lions won the Orange Holiday Tournament at Chapman University.

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