There was a little bit of a scare in UCLA’s basketball game against California, as the Golden Bears scored the game’s first three baskets and got to within four points of the Bruins in the second half.
Shabazz Muhammad’s three-point shot with just over four minutes left and Kyle Anderson’s fourth double-double-of the season – he ended up with a team-high 19 points and 12 rebounds and was a perfect nine-for-nine from the free throw line – were more than enough for UCLA to beat Cal, 79-65, in front of 9,406 at (new) Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night in their Pac-12 conference opener.
The Bruins avoided a letdown in wake of their upset victory over 7th-ranked Missouri by overcoming an off-night by Muhammad – although the freshman was clutch in the end, he hit just five of 13 shots – and by holding Cal to a 39.5% shooting percentage.
The top-notch recruit from Las Vegas also grabbed six badly needed rebounds, improving in that area.
Allen Crabbe, the Bears’ best player, led his team and everyone else with 21 points, but what really killed Cal was the fact that they took 13 shots from the three-point arc – and missed all 13 of them.
Travis Wear scored 15 much-needed points for UCLA, and Norman Powell was the other Bruin in double figures as he scored ten.
It’s a good sign that the Bruins were able to step up and get their sixth straight win to improve their overall record to 11-3 despite being outrebounded by their older U.C. brothers from Berkeley, 45 to 37, and despite some of their key players not having their best night.
That will be needed as Pac-12 play unfolds, as the conference definitely fits the cliche of “Anybody can beat anybody on a given night”.
Ben Howland’s team can’t celebrate for too long, because they have to gear up for their next challenge right away as in conference play, teams have a quick turnaround from one game to the next.
The next test that UCLA has to pass will be to see if they can put together a good peformance and a win so soon after a previous game; Bruin Nation will find out if they can.
Stanford Cardinal, Saturday, January 5 at 12 noon, Pauley Pavilion. TV: Pac-12 Networks