You can’t deny that things are starting to get better with UCLA’s basketball team as they continued to win the games that they are supposed to, beating the Big West Conference’s Long Beach State for the 12th time in 13 games against the 49ers, 89-70, before a decent crowd (considering it’s Winter Break) of 8,636 at Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday night.
Then again, the games that the Bruins play during this part of the season are nearly always the ones that they are expected to win as losing to mid-major teams like Long Beach State and previous opponents like Prairie View A&M and Cal State Northridge are seen as disastrous to say the least; everyone remembers the panic caused by the loss to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo earlier this year.
UCLA did what was expected, thankfully, as Jordan Adams led the Bruins with 24 points with Shabazz Muhammad, coming off a career-high 25 point performance against Prairie View A&M, adding 21 and six rebounds. Ben Howland’s team pulled away in the second half after the 49ers got to within seven points, helped by Larry Drew II’s nine assists to go along with his 14 points.
Dan Jennings, a transfer from West Virginia and one of four transfers on the Long Beach State squad, led everyone with 27 points.
The win by the Bruins was their fourth straight after suffering their third loss of the year against San Diego State and falling out of the top 25 polls. Now at a solid and respectable 8-3, they have one more game before the Christmas holiday, on Saturday, December 22 at home against Fresno State.
UCLA has a week off after that before their last non-conference contest, a showdown against Missouri on December 28, who unlike the Bruins are ranked in the top 25 and will pose a challenge.
Meanwhile, although these current opponents are seen as more or less cupcakes, it’s good that UCLA is winning and executing better as it will help them when Pac-12 Conference play starts.