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December 20, 2009UCLA lost to a good Notre Dame team Saturday afternoon 84 to 73. The Bruins had the lead for most of the first half, but then let the Fighting Irish gradually take over the game to be down by four points, 40 to 36 at the intermission. Notre Dame extended their lead in the second half and finished winning by eleven points.
UCLA surrendered its lead with 6:24 left in the first stanza when the Irish took a 27 to 26 lead. The Bruins made a three pointer and a foul shot to go back in the lead 30 to 27, but Notre Dame made two shots to take the lead back 31 to 30 with 4:53 left in the half and never looked back. The lead went up to 13 points twice in the second half and finished at eleven.
This was another disappointing loss for the young Bruins but there were some bright spots as well. Malcolm Lee is starting to show his true potential as he scored 29 points on 11 for 17 from the floor, 4 for 6 from the 3 point line and 3 for 4 from the stripe. Lee is refining his game, taking much better shots, penetrating the key only when there is an open lane, and setting up his teammates for good looks, getting four assists against one turnover.
Michael Roll chipped in 19 points on 7 for 10 from the floor and 5 for 8 from the three point line. He also had five assists. Reeves Nelson continued his strong progress with 11 points, shooting 5 for 8 and grabbing eight rebounds. Nikola Dragovic scored nine points on 4 for 12 shooting and also added eight boards. Jerime Anderson scored one point going 1 for 2 from the free throw line and 0 for 2 from the floor. He had 5 assists and two turnovers. J'mison Morgan and Tyler Honeycutt both had two points to finish the Bruin scoring.
UCLA shot 49.1 percent from the floor, 50 percent from the 3 point line (9 for 18) and an improved 66.7 percent on their free throws.
Notre Dame started slow but finished shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 52.9 percent from the 3 point line. The lack of UCLA's normal defensive intensity was the difference in this game, along with poor rebounding.
UCLA's offense was fine. They executed their sets crisply and shot the ball well, but they were outrebounded by eleven, 35 to 24 and gave the Irish shoot too many open looks. Luke Harangody scored 23 points on 9 for 19 shooting for Notre Dame. Tim Abromaitis had 17, Ben Hansbrough added 14, Tyrone Nash finished with 11 points and Tory Jackson scored 10 points, giving the Irish five players in double figures. Jonathan Peoples helped the Irish cause with nine points as well. Notre Dame shot 60 percent in the second half to put the game away.
UCLA looked better in this game even though it was their 6th loss in their last seven games. They are now 3 and 7 now while Notre Dame is 10 and 2 on the season. The Bruin's offense is jelling nicely and the better players are coming to the fore.
The point guard position is still a question as Anderson only got one point, but otherwise this team is starting to get it together. When the Bruins are able to combine their usual stifling defense with solid rebounding and the good offense they have shown in the last two games, they will start beating good teams like Notre Dame.
The season is still young and the Bruins next two opponents are Colorado State and Delaware State. Then the Pac 10 starts with the Arizona schools coming in to Pauley and these conference games will determine the post season for UCLA. The Bruins are improving but must keep getting better to do well in a weak Pac 10 conference.