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UCLA basketball: Bruins lead Cal Poly, 34-26, at halftime

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Another small crowd. Another mid-major opponent. Another underwhelming start.

Fortunately for UCLA, the similarities between its games against Montana and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo stop there. The Bruins ended the first half on a 9-3 run to take a 34-26 lead over the Mustangs into intermission on Saturday evening at Pauley Pavilion.

UCLA trailed by as many as four points in the early going, but it was the first time since the Bruins’ victory over Pacific on Nov. 16 that they didn’t fall behind by at least seven points in the first few minutes. Cal Poly’s zone gave UCLA some problems, but the Bruins did a better job of finding each other inside than they did during a 66-57 loss to Montana on Sunday.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland went back to the starting lineup he had used in the season’s first five games, which included Joshua Smith at center, and Smith led all players with 11 points on four-for-six shooting and six rebounds. Forward Reeves Nelson also resembled his old productive self after a pair of subpar games, getting nine points and three rebounds, and forward Brendan Lane had seven points off the bench.

It’s a good thing the Bruins’ bigs are getting it done, because starting guards Malcolm Lee and Lazeric Jones have combined for three points and made one of seven shots. Forward David Hanson has nine points and Shawn Lewis eight for Cal Poly, which shot 47.6% to UCLA’s 44% but has eight fewer rebounds than the Bruins.

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There was a false start of sorts for the Bruins, who might want to edit the pregame player introductions shown on the video board. Freshman guard Matt Carlino, who announced earlier this week that he was transferring, was the first player to introduce himself. Oops.

--Ben Bolch


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