UCLA defense needs to do some stretching

After facing what UCLA Coach Ben Howland described as a “barrage” of jump shots against Stanford two days ago, his team figures to see more of the same against California tonight in Berkeley.

The Golden Bears feature two players -- Theo Robertson and Jerome Randle -- who rank among the best three-point shooters in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Howland noted that Randle, in particular, has 27-foot range. “He makes some bombs,” the coach said.

That could put extra pressure on the 22nd-ranked Bruins in a key game that features two of the three teams tied for second place in the Pac-10 standings.

UCLA cranked up Friday afternoon’s walk-through, going at 80% to 90% speed, in an attempt to acclimate to the Golden Bears’ offense and the matchup zone they mix with a more common man-to-man defense.


Then came a traffic jam that had the Bruins sitting on a bus, crawling back through Berkeley to their hotel. Asked if he felt at home in Southern California-like road conditions, Howland said: “This is worse than that.”

Rising star

Expect to see more of UCLA freshman guard Malcolm Lee against the Golden Bears.

Lee caught Howland’s attention during a loss to Washington State last week with a defensive performance that earned him extended playing time against Stanford.

In 14 minutes, he scored only two points but had five rebounds and played tough against Cardinal guard Anthony Goods.

Lee got his extra time from several players, including starter Jrue Holiday, who got into foul trouble.

Howland said that using Lee more “is helping us keep guys fresher. There are definitely enough minutes to go around to play as hard as we want to play.”

Hot hand

Howland took a moment after the Stanford win to speak with Josh Shipp about a shot the swingman took from a nearly impossible angle along the baseline.

“He was feeling a little bit too good,” Howland said.

Shipp’s abundant confidence was understandable given that he made nine of 12 shots on the way to a game-high 24 points. One poor attempt notwithstanding, Howland praised the senior, as did teammates.

“Everybody’s going to talk about his scoring, but he really gutted up getting a lot of defensive rebounds for us,” guard Darren Collison said of Shipp, who finished with a team-high seven rebounds.

Center Alfred Aboya also had a talk with Shipp after the game.

“That’s how the team needs you to play if we want to have a chance,” Aboya recalled saying. “You’ve got to bring it every night from now on.”

Clutch player

Aboya drew praise for his performance against the Cardinal.

Overcoming a trend of foul problems this season, he returned to the game with four fouls at the 8:02 mark and played the rest of the way.

“I wanted to give him a chance to get in there and I thought he was smart,” Howland said, adding: “He’s smart because he knows how important he is to this team.”

Howland joked about praying on the bench as Aboya took a series of free throws late in the game, making four of five. The senior said he treated the attempts like practice.

“Same routine,” he said. “I’m confident that my shot will go in when I take it.”