Washington opened up PAC 12 play on Thursday night hosting Mick Cronin and his struggling UCLA Bruins. Thanks to the defensive struggles that UCLA has had all season, the Dawgs were 7.5 point favorites coming into this one. Turns out that the offensive struggles that plagued UW in their loss to Houston in the Diamond Head Classic finale last week would continue into the conference opener. Poor three point shooting and an inability to keep UCLA off of the offensive boards led UCLA (8-6) to a 66-64 upset over Washington (10-4).
Washington’s struggles were well-telegraphed early in the game. It was hard to tell if it was good defense or just plain old bad offense as the first half started out with both teams struggling to score. Over the first five minutes, the teams combined to shoot a woeful 5-16 with each team scoring 7 points.
The ugly shooting continued for both teams as the half went on. The only difference was that UCLA was able to expose the Achilles heel of the Huskies with their offensive rebounding and second chance points. Guards Chris Smith (17 points) and Jake Kyman (21 points) helped UCLA convert those extra possessions into a 10-2 run that created some distance on the scoreboard and put a muzzle on the Dawg Pack. Meanwhile, foul trouble on Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart seemed to discombobulate the Huskies. The sloppy Dawgs closed the first half trailing the Bruins 34-24.
UW coach Mike Hopkins opened up the second half hoping to reboot his offense by getting the Huskies into transition and working through Stewart. The trick worked for a while as the Huskies exploded for a quick 8-0 run to close the 10 point lead down to two. The Huskies would eventually reclaim the lead after a nifty string of plays that started with Quade Green hitting a slick fast break layup and then Jamal Bey immediately picking off the inbound pass resulting in back-to-back layins putting Washington up 39-38.
The game was pretty much a slug fest from there. Isaiah Stewart flexed his dominating form (24 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks) on both ends of the floor to pace UW while UCLA continued to buck their normal form with Kyman hitting intermittent threes and the rest of the team finding ways to keep the pace. UW seemed to make a dagger play when Naz Carter hit his first three of the game with 24.1 seconds to play giving the Huskies a 1 point lead. But Jake Kyman, again, answered immediately with his seventh and final three pointer to give UCLA the win.
The Huskies next game is Sunday when they host USC at 7pm PT.
- Naz Carter can fly.
- Jaden McDaniels had a forgettable PAC 12 debut. The Husky star picked up three ticky tack fouls in the first half and then earned himself a fourth from the bench when he threw back an errant pass from his spot on the bench that hit UCLA forward Cody Riley in the face. That brain fart earned McDaniels a technical and his fourth foul before the first half was concluded. He would go on to finish with just three points before fouling out early in the second half.
- UCLA entered the night as one of the two worst three-point shooting teams in the PAC averaging just five makes a game. Thanks to freshman Jake Kyman (who had scored 18 total points all season) going 7-12, UCLA finished the night 10-26 from deep. Compare and contrast that to UW’s lethargic 3-12 from the arc.
- The Bruins had a huge advantage on the boards. They out-rebounded 38-27 with 22 of those rebounds coming from the offensive end. Those offensive boards gave UCLA a 15-4 second chance point advantage.
- Where or where did Quade Green and his hot streak go?
- Coach Mike Hopkins surprised learned observers by rotating both Nate Roberts and RaeQuan Battle into the game early in the first half when the game was still tied. Battle, a true freshman, had only appeared in four games on the season. Hop ended up rotating 10 different players into the game, all of who played while the game was tightly contested.
- Isaiah Stewart had a funny moment in the first half where he channeled his inner Lew Alcindor and attempted a two-step baby hook. The shot missed badly and resembled something more like harpooning a baby seal than a baby hook.
- Aside from that one dunk, Naz Carter (13 points), produced one of the game’s more unique plays when he earned the rare “and 2” play. Carter picked off an errant pass, streaked down the court and drew an intentional foul on Prince Ali while converting the one handed toss in.