Outside of winning the game, the UCLA Bruins didn’t do much to impress in the 3rd place game of the Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn.
Shabazz Muhammad led the team with 21 points on 6-12 shooting. He shot 50% from the field for the second game in a row. In his second game as a Bruin, Muhammad made his first career start. David Wear was out of the starting lineup with an injury suffered when he fell awkwardly on his back against Georgetown Monday. That lead to Muhammad’s start, and UCLA’s problems on the defensive glass. They weren’t out-rebounded badly (only 34-31), but the Bruins clearly had problems securing the defensive boards.
Without David Wear, the frontcourt left a lot to be desired. The perpetually out of shape Joshua Smith only had 3 field goals. UCLA fell into a zone to protect Muhammad and Kyle Anderson from playing one on one with the Georgia frontcourt players. Georgia attacked the glass, and UCLA was lucky to escape with a win considering it.
UCLA wanted to run the court and get out in the open floor. But Georgia didn’t hand them any layups until the final minute, so UCLA kept turning the ball over and forcing tough shots.
The Bruins would have loved to leave Brooklyn with an early season tournament title, but they are not the team in November that they want to be in March. UCLA is going to need to find an identity on both ends of the floor, and find a way to incorporate Joshua Smith. If they don’t use him, they risk to do to Smith what they did to Reeves Nelson last year. If your talented player is not helping you on the court, then he is hurting you with his negative attention and attitude on the bench.