UCLA Basketball: Ben Howland's Christmas Wish List

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UCLA Basketball: Ben Howland's Christmas Wish List
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

UCLA cruised to victory over Prairie View A&M on Saturday by a comfortable 42-point margin (95-53) padded by freshman Shabazz Muhammad’s season-high 25-point performance.

In what has been a rocky start for the UCLA Bruins, this was a defining win for momentum and team morale, but before you get out of your seat and begin leading an 8-Clap, let’s put it all in perspective, Bruins fans.

Let’s keep in mind that this was Prairie View, who was 3-4 in Division-I nonconference games with an RPI ranking of 170 approaching Saturday night’s game. This was a team that resorted to dealing a low blow to Jordan Adams and cutting Shabazz Muhammad off from the basket with a dangerous flagrant foul when it was down in the game.

Regardless of how crummy the opposition was, UCLA displayed the same weaknesses that have lingered for the entire season. There were improvements, but there are nevertheless some major flaws that set off alarms much louder in Pauley Pavilion than Ben Howland’s echoing cry for his team to move off the ball on offense.

As the Bruins approach their final three nonconference games, which culminate with a tough matchup against No. 12 Missouri, they’ll hang their stockings on the mantel this year and hope that good ole St. Nick leaves them something special this Christmas—a new pair of those trendy headphones, or maybe some enthusiasm or even some good old-fashioned UCLA pride.

No one is setting out more cookies and milk in hopes of a generous visit from Santa this Christmas morning than head coach Ben Howland, whose seat on UCLA’s bench has become unbearably warm.

Coach Howland doesn’t want a lot this Christmas. He needs it.

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