Bruins reap benefits of win over Brigham Young
It’s doubtful any UCLA player is going to tweet or text “We’re No. 109!” in response to the Bruins’ latest Ratings Percentage Index figure.
But it’s a considerable upgrade over their RPI of 182 before an 86-79 victory over No. 16 Brigham Young on Saturday in the Wooden Classic gave them a long-awaited signature triumph.
“It’s a really big win,” junior guard Lazeric Jones said after the Bruins notched their first victory over a ranked team since defeating No. 22 Washington on Feb. 19, 2009. “Not only in the long run for the NCAA tournament, but for our confidence.”
UCLA had been teetering on the verge of irrelevance after bottoming out with a loss to Montana on Dec. 5 that extended its losing streak to four games.
Now the Bruins (6-4) have some momentum. They have won three consecutive games heading into games at Pauley Pavilion against Montana State on Tuesday and UC Irvine on Thursday.
“We’ve had some ups and downs in the beginning, so we’re just trying to stay positive,” said Jones, who scored 12 points against Brigham Young. “That was a really big win for us and hopefully it will help us continue to come together and get better.”
Set in his ways
Joshua Smith doesn’t have to move to make an impact on defense.
In fact, it’s imperative that he doesn’t.
The freshman center leads UCLA with 10 charges taken, including one on Brigham Young’s Jimmer Fredette in the second half that helped the Bruins fend off a Cougars surge. The play was especially gutsy considering Smith had four fouls when he planted his feet and hoped for the best.
“I knew he was going to drive and he was going to leave his feet,” Smith said, “and I just thought I was going to take a charge and if I’m late, I’m late.”
But Smith was on time, and the call went UCLA’s way.
“I was so excited, you have no idea,” said Coach Ben Howland, who noted earlier in the week that he preferred a charge to a blocked shot because it forced a turnover.
Reeves Nelson is second on the team with four charges taken and Tyler Honeycutt is third with three.
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