Saturday, September 23

UCLA post play an ongoing issue

Team begins post-season play Thurday as a fifth seed, lacking a presence in the paint

TEMPE, Ariz. – Freshman forward Brendan Lane had been holding his own as UCLA’s only true post player. Despite his lack of experience at the collegiate level and his relatively slim physique, he was getting by in his first few starts as a college player.

That was until Eric Boateng made him look his age.

The Sun Devils’ senior center pushed Lane around with ease ““ along with whoever else the Bruins put in his path ““ en route to a monster performance that led Arizona State in its 56-46 victory on Saturday afternoon. Boateng had quite the stat line, totaling 16 points to go along with a career-high 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

“(Lane) got a rude awakening as to what it’s like to play against a really good player,” coach Ben Howland said.

Lane and Howland both pointed to the weight difference between the two players as a major factor in the matchup. According to their official media guide weights, Lane was at a 52-pound disadvantage every time.

Boateng backed him down in the key.

“It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to toughen up and get him out of there,” Lane said. “I just couldn’t do it.”

“I’ve got to use this as motivation in the offseason to get stronger.”

UCLA was once again undermanned with freshman starting center Reeves Nelson missing his fourth straight game, choosing to sit out for fear that his left eye was still vulnerable from his recent retinal surgery. As a result, the Bruins allowed double-doubles to opposing big men in both games of the Arizona road trip.

Boateng, who transferred from Duke after his freshman season, was also honored before the game as part of ASU’s Senior Day celebration. With fewer than three minutes remaining and the Sun Devils trying to close out the game, Boateng grabbed two consecutive offensive rebounds in the same possession to deny the Bruins the ball and finally put the final nail in the coffin. The series ignited the student section with chants of his name.

Pac-10 Tournament begins Thursday

UCLA has received the No. 5 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament, which means it will play No. 4 Arizona at noon on Thursday at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The Wildcats have beaten the Bruins twice this season, including a 78-73 come-from-behind victory last Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz.

By defeating rival Stanford on Saturday, California clinched the conference’s outright title and the No. 1 seed in the tournament, followed by ASU and Washington at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

With its sub-.500 record and poor non-conference performance, UCLA’s only chance at an invitation to another postseason event would be to win three games in three days over the weekend to earn the Pac-10′s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Bruins did not win three straight at any point during the conference schedule and did so only once all season back in late December.

Even though it looks like he will have to wait at least another year to experience any kind of March Madness, Tyler Honeycutt said the Bruins’ dire situation makes him want to keep the dream alive for his captain.

“I’m going to come out and play as hard as I can for our seniors, especially for Mike (Roll),” Honeycutt said. “I just want to play as many games as we can for him.”


Junior Spencer Soo made an appearance in the final minute of the game. After receiving the inbound pass, the five-foot-eight-inch guard immediately drove past his defender, but his layup was blocked by Boateng in the lane.

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