Game 24 Recap – Unoffensive Oregon St. Loses at UCLA For The Eighth Time In A Row

UCLA's Joshua Smith (34) blocks a shot by Oregon State's Kevin McShane (0), one of 16 shots the Bruins swatted away. (Photo by Danny Moloshok, AP)

Final Score: UCLA 69 Oregon St. 61

It wasn't a replay of a prior FSN broadcast of an Oregon St. game, but you had to watch closely to tell. Once again, the Beavers started cold out of the gate offensively, falling way behind. The gritty Beavers rallied behind their defense, but couldn't get over the hump, never getting closer than 4 points in this case. The extreme expenditure of energy led to another opponent's run in the second half, leaving Oregon St. down by double digits again, and unable to catch up despite battling to the final buzzer.

Omari Johnson moved back into the starting lineup, in place of Joe Burton, who did not even play. This despite several Chris Brown sightings, and much of Burton's tribe from the Hemet, California area being in attendance.

Robinson said Burton's benching was due to a "team rule violation."

It was the ninth different starting five Oregon St. coach Craig Robinson has used, both for tactical matchup reasons, and in response to player performance in games and in practice. Johnson responded by scoring the game's first basket. It would be the only time Oregon St. lead.

Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt answered with three pointers for UCLA though, and Reeves Nelson pushed the lead to 8-2, forcing an Oregon St. timeout before the first media timeout, a problem Beaver fans have seen before.

Switching from the 2-3 zone into the 1-3-1 slowed the Bruins down, and the Beavers also showed a 1-2-2.

Early on Robinson went deep into the bench, with all of the starters sitting down seven minutes into the contest.

UCLA used a 9-0 run to open a double digit 17-6 lead nine minutes into the game, as much a function of Oregon St.'s inability to convert as it was what UCLA was doing.

By midway in the first half, Oregon St. had gone over 5 minutes without scoring, and were shooting 13%. Honeycutt found Josh Smith for two plus one, giving Smith, who finished with 15 points, a personal 5-0 run, and extending the Bruin run to 17-0, and all inside, before Devon Collier's putback finally put a stop to it.

After the Bruins initially hit the two shots from the outside, it drew the Beaver defense out a step or two, and that allowed UCLA to attack the rim at will.

A slow offensive start was a fatal problem in the first game against UCLA, as well as more recently. Ahmad Starks hit a three pointer, and after a Lee layin, Jared Cunningham hit consecutive layins, one off yet another steal (the Beavers lead the nation in steals, and Cunningham continues to be #5 individually), and Oregon St. suddenly had an 11-2 run, but the scrappy Beavers still trailed by 9 points because of the deep hole they had gotten into.

Oregon St. was in double figures in offensive rebounds in the first half, and it kept them in the game, resulting ultimately in an 18-5 run, leaving the Beavers down only 29-24 at halftime. After making that early run, UCLA had 5 points against 7 turnovers in the last 8 minutes of the first half.

14 UCLA turnovers was a more important stat that Oregon St. shooting 28%.

The Beavers relied mostly on the 2-3 zone defense to start the second half, using the 1-2-2 only until backed up onto their own side of the court. And though the Beavers crawled back within 4 points off another Cunningham steal, it was as close as they would get. The Bruins patiently pushed back out to a 36-27 lead, which again forced Robinson to burn a timeout before reaching the first media timeout of the half. Having had to use one earlier to preserve a possession, Oregon St. was down to 2 timeouts with over 16 minutes left in the game.

The Beavers shut out the Bruins for over 4 minutes, but couldn't capitalize on their defense. After mis-handling a 4 on 1 break, Oregon St. watched UCLA re-extend the lead to 12 points, going up 41-29 by the time the under 12 minute media time out rolled around, on a three pointer by Lazeric Jones.

Tyler Lamb added another three pointer for the Bruins, and both Brandt and Kevin McShane had their fourth personal foul with more than 10 minutes still to go.

Down 17 with less than 8 minutes left, the Beavers ignored the back door, and the Bruins opened their largest lead so far on a lob to Honeycutt for a dunk, and a 53-34 lead.

McShane and Brandt fouled out on back to back plays, and UCLA opened their largest lead of the game, 56-34, with over 6 minutes left.

Oregon St. didn't get their field goal percentage back up over 30% until the last five minutes of the game, when they made as meaningless of a 7-0 run as you will ever see.

UCLA cleared the bench in this one, but when Oregon St. continued to press defensively, Bruins coach Ben Howland sent four starters back into the game, to preserve the 69-61 win.

Starks, so effective against Washington's Isaiah Thomas, Washington St.'s Klay Thompson, and USC's Maurice Jones, was not nearly so successful against Lee. Even though Lee fouled out with 5:32 left, he had a game high 19 points.

The Beavers shot better from long range than they did against USC, but it was because they cut way down on the number of thee pointers they took. Oregon St. was 2 of 5 midway in the second half, though they finished only 4 of 14.

UCLA's blocked shots were a large part of the difference in the game. The Bruins swatted away 16 shots, half of them by Honeycutt. The conference record is 19 blocked shots.

Honeycutt finished with only 9 points, but along with his 8 blocks, also had 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal.

Oregon St. held UCLA just under 50% from the field, as the Bruins sank 19 of 39 shots, and after the quick two to start the game, just 4 of 14 from three point range.

Regarding the steals Oregon St. is getting, but not converting, Robinson said "If there was stat for that, we'd be leading in that. But there isn't. I can't be upset about how hard they are playing on defense. I can be upset on not converting it. But I like the hard work, and if we keep doing that, we'll start to convert. Maybe I can as a coach figure out what to do with those stolen balls. Maybe I should steal them, bring them back out and run our half court offense. We are getting stuff going to the basket; just not when it's a fast break."

Cunningham struggled offensively again. Though he led Oregon St. with 14 points, he was only 4 of 15 from the field, 27%. That was symptomatic of the entire team, which shot 34 %, and it was only that high because UCLA relented defensively down the stretch. Which was why the Beavers reached the 60 point mark for only the second time

Collier and Roberto Nelson off the bench were the only other Beavers in double figures, with 10 points apiece.

UCLA has now won 13 in a row against Oregon St., and Pauley Pavilion remains a house of horrors for the Beavers, who have only 1 win in the last 22 years there, numbers reminiscent of the early years of the building, when John Wooden's big bad Bruins did that to everyone.

The game makes one wonder why it was shown nationally, while the California - Washington St. game that followed wasn't on any channel, leaving the Pac-10 under exposed, while 3 over the air networks aired paid commercial programs. Larry Scott, you have some work to do.

The win was the fifth in a row for UCLA (18-7, 9-3), and ninth in their last ten games. The Bruins will be in second place at worst in the Pac-10, pending conference leading Arizona's game Sunday at Arizona St., when they head for the Bay Area next weekend.

Oregon St. (9-15, 4-9) remains winless on the road in the Pac-10, suffering their third weekend sweep of the season. The Beavers, having lost 3 games in a row, 6 of their last 7, and 9 of 11, will remain in 9th. place in the conference when they head to Eugene next Saturday, for the season's second Civil War battle against Oregon, in Matthew Knight Arena.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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