Bruins gets defensive, win sixth straight vs. Cal
JAN 03, 2013 9:29p ET
On a night in which their top two scorers didn't shoot the ball particularly well, combining to go 7-for-21 from the field, the Bruins showed the resolve defensively to run past Cal 79-65 to win their sixth straight game and record their 10th consecutive win in a conference home opener.
There haven't been many times this season where UCLA (11-3, 1-0 Pac-12) could call on their defense, but that's exactly what they did on Thursday night in front of 9,406 at the new Pauley Pavilion.
The Pac-12's leading scorer, Cal guard Allen Crabbe, surpassed his average with 21 points but took 21 shots to get there. He had five points on 2-of-9 shooting at halftime and missed all three of his three-point attempts in the first half as UCLA held a 38-28 halftime lead.
Norman Powell came off of the UCLA bench and was credited with slowing down the conference's leading scorer.
"I thought Norman Powell's defense in the first half on Crabbe was critical," said UCLA head coach Ben Howland. "He did a great job. You just can't hold down a great player, sometimes, for 40 minutes."
UCLA opened the second half with an 8-2 run and led by as many as 16 points. However, Cal (8-5, 0-1 Pac-12) responded with a 13-3 run to get to within six, 49-43. That's when Crabbe started to heat up, scoring 10 of the Golden Bears' next 14 points as the Bruins watched their lead shrink to four, 61-57, with 6:32 remaining in the game.
The Bruins, once again, called on their defense. UCLA held the Golden Bears scoreless for nearly the next three minutes on a 7-0 run to go back up by 11 points.
Shabazz Muhammad came around a Kyle Anderson screen and took the feed from Jordan Adams to knock down a three-pointer to give UCLA a 68-57 lead with 4:11 remaining in the game.
The screen set by Anderson was just one of his many contributions on Thursday night. Picking up the slack for Adams and Muhammad, Anderson registered his fourth double-double of the season with team-highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds. He also had two blocks and two steals and was 9-of-9 from the free throw line.
It was an off night for Adams and Muhammad. Adams finished the game with seven points. Meanwhile, Muhammad missed six of his first seven shots and had just five points at halftime.
In the second half as the Golden Bears tried to make their run, Muhammad was able to answer with some clutch baskets to keep them at bay.
"The guy's got ice water in his veins," said Howland of Muhammad. "He wants the ball."
Added Muhammad: "I love shooting those shots and if I miss I have to deal with the consequences but I just like shooting those shots. If you feel confident, you're going to knock it down and that's what I did tonight."
He finished with 16 points on 5-of-13 from the field and was 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Muhammad's two three-point baskets were two more than the Golden Bears made all game. They were 0-for-13 from three point range. It marked the first time since the 2006 national semifinal against LSU that UCLA held an opponent without a three-point basket.
The one low point for the Bruins was getting outrebounded 45-37, including 20-11 on the offensive glass. Cal's 10 second-chance points gave them hope.
UCLA held Cal to 37 percent shooting from the field in the first half and 39 percent for the game, playing exclusively man-to-man. It's a long way away from a team that had to tinker with zone defense to be competitive earlier in the season.
"I thought we did really, really good, especially helping off of penetration and (our) rotation down," Travis Wear said. "I thought our defense performed well. I think that once we cut down on second opportunities for them we'll be off and running."
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