UCLA men’s basketball pulls out big road win at Washington State


Michael Chen

PULLMAN, Wash. “”mdash; In a season that has been a far cry from what the UCLA men’s basketball team has grown accustomed to, at least one thing has remained constant for the Bruins: a win in Pullman, Wash.

The Bruins (12-13, 7-6 Pac-10) defeated Washington State for the 17th consecutive time at Beasley Coliseum, the latest one an emphatic 71-51 win in front of a sparse and subdued crowd of 6,566.

Highlighting the Bruins’ impressive performance were senior guard Michael Roll and freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt, who finished with 15 points and 14 points, respectively. The offensive efficiency started early as the two players combined to shoot 10-of-10 from the field as the Bruins used a 16-4 run to turn a two-point lead into a 40-26 advantage at halftime.

“That doesn’t happen everyday,” Howland said of the display.

Part of the reason behind Honeycutt’s perfect five-of-five shooting from the field was the freshman’s tendencies to sneak into Pauley Pavilion and practice shooting, sometimes until 1 a.m.

“(I) kind of said, “˜Well, wait until next year,’ but why wait until next year if you can get better now,” Honeycutt said.

Howland noted that when Honeycutt, who missed the entire summer with a fracture in his back, returned from a stress reaction in his tibia, which forced him to miss the first three weeks of the season, his shot resembled a knuckleball.

“Now he’s already got great backspin,” Howland said. “It’s just so exciting to see how much he’s improved, especially when you consider he missed three weeks during the season.”

A significant factor in the Bruins’ notching their largest-margin of victory since a 66-49 over Delaware State on Dec. 27 was a suffocating zone defense that shut down the Cougars’ (15-11, 5-9) two primary offensive players in sophomore guard Klay Thompson and freshman point guard Reggie Moore, who were held to eight and 11 points, respectively.

“We’ve evolved since the last time we played them because we did a good job on Klay. Reggie was still hot and kind of keeping them in the game,” said sophomore guard Malcolm Lee, who went four-of-seven for 10 points. “But we kind of contained both of them throughout the game, so I think that’s another reason why the game was like that.”

The game was not without casualties for the Bruins. After learning that senior forward James Keefe would miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, freshman forward Reeves Nelson fell face-first onto the court after a dunk, gashing his right eyebrow and leaving blood on the court. Nelson, who finished with four points, left the game and received 15 stitches. After a concussion test, Nelson was medically cleared to re-enter the game but remained on the bench.

UCLA turns its attention to Saturday’s game against Washington. There is one thing Howland would like his team to improve on after a trend of disappointing losses in Seattle.

“We still had 15 turnovers, which is three or four more than I would like,” Howland said. “It’s going to really be difficult against (Washington’s) pressure.”

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