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November 17, 2009UCLA suffered its first defeat in its first official game of the season by losing to Cal State Fullerton 68 to 65. Shooting a miserable 31 percent for the game, the Bruins were behind most of the game, and they only made five of 29 three- pointers for a terrible 17 percent.
This was the worst shooting performance by a UCLA team in a very long time and this took place against a team picked to finish in the middle of the Big West Conference.
The one standout player for the Bruins was 6-8 freshman Reeves Nelson, who went 4 for 6, scoring eleven points and getting six rebounds in only twelve minutes of the first half. He did not play in the second half, an oversight that Coach Ben Howland admitted to in the post game press conference.
Malcolm Lee and Michael Roll, both scored 17 points for the game but they shot a combined 13 for 38 or 34 percent for the game. Drew Gordon went five for twelve for ten points while getting eight boards.
Then we get to the really bad shooting. Nikola Dragovic shot two for fourteen for 14 percent and only one for nine from the three point line. Jerime Anderson was even worse, shooting one for eleven, which equals 9 percent and 0 for 3 from the three ,while the man he was guarding, Aaron Thompson, lead the Titans with 22 points. James Keefe was one for three, scoring two points but getting nine boards. Dragovic also did well on the boards, getting 14 rebounds.
UCLA played catch up for most of the game and only lead briefly in the second half 47 to 45 with 8:03 left in the game, and by three points twice at 55 to 52 and 57 to 54 with two and one half minutes and one and one half minutes left in regulation.
Roll missed the first of a one and one when the Bruins already had a one point lead with only 9 seconds left. The regular game then ended at 57 to 57 as Fullerton missed a free throw to win the game. Both teams only scored three points in the first overtime as it ended 60 to 60.
In the second overtime the Bruins never lead as Fullerton scored the first basket and then stayed ahead for the whole five minutes as the game ended with the Bruins on the short end by three points.
This game highlighted several problems that the Bruins must deal with if they are going to have a decent record this season. Their shooting is clearly poor so far and must improve dramatically for UCLA to win a normal number of games.
Their defense was fair in this game, holding the Titans to 40 percent for the game, but was still vulnerable to penetration, especially in the first half. Anderson had another sub-par game overall, getting only one assist with three turnovers.
The point guard spot is a serious problem for the Bruins and it will be hard for Howland to overcome this issue as they only have Anderson and Lee to fill this position. The prediction of 20 wins is looking shaky early if the Bruins don't start fixing the many problems they displayed Monday night.
Coach Ben Howland gave Fullerton its due praise after the game, saying they deserved a lot of credit. He said his team was tired, and he should have substituted more. The Bruins struggled against the zone. Howland will give the team off Tuesday. He also plans to play Nelson and Mike Moser more.
Notre Dame NEWS