Loyola Marymount 69, UCLA 58
One team displayed a dominant frontcourt, an effective backcourt and all-around intensity in a big season opener.
The other team was UCLA.
In game they were supposed to control from start to finish, the 20th-ranked Bruins lost the initiative early and never quite got it back. To say they played terribly would not be an exaggeration, but alarmed UCLA fans should factor in first-game jitters to their overall critique.
To be fair, it was the first game of a long season. What we witnessed in the Sports Arena was a team that hadn’t played many competitive games together, and it showed. Their chemistry will improve as the season goes on, allowing the offense to execute more cleanly.
But there were plenty of negatives to take from, let’s face it, an 11-point shellacking by fearless LMU. Right now, Ben Howland has a bunch of good pieces, but not yet a good team.
For all the hype UCLA’s frontcourt received during the preseason, they did very little against the Lions to live up to it.
Vaunted center Joshua Smith again suffered early foul trouble and was a non-factor. Reeves Nelson couldn’t fully rebound from a stagnant first half. David and Travis Wear looked as advertised for some time, but were invisible after intermission.
The backcourt duo of Lazeric Jones and Tyler Lamb fared even worse, providing little scoring while Loyola Marymount rained triples on them all night long.
The Lions went an impressive 10-of-15 from three, most of them uncontested. When they weren’t abusing the Bruins from behind the arc, the LMU guards routinely took their defenders of the dribble to moderate success.
Howland’s trademark defensive toughness was noticeably absent from a UCLA team that could not stop perimeter shooting, dribble drives or shots from the blocks. Their offense was visibly a work in progress, settling too often for long, contested jump shots and not pressing their size advantage down low.
Overall, UCLA get's a C+ for their opening night effort. But individually, how did the Bruin players do?