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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Rapid Reaction: UCLA 60, Georgia 56

By Dana O'Neil


Brooklyn, NY -- A quick look at UCLA’s 60-56 win over Georgia in the Legends Classic.

Overview: So the Bruins escape, leaving Brooklyn with a split here in the Legends Classic.

Maybe in a month or two no one will remember just how ugly this win was.

Maybe.

Or maybe it’s a sign of things to come, a team that has a great résumé on paper but plays like everyone should be happy to have them on the court.

Little hustle, less talk, not much in the way of a presence, to put it simply, UCLA just sort of nonchalanced its way to a victory. If Georgia was just a little bit more talented, it wins going away.

The Bruins biggest flaw is their defense. It’s lazy, passive and occasionally simply not there. It’s got to drive defensive-minded coach Ben Howland crazy. He kept screaming, ‘Stance, stance,’ and the Bruins posed nicely in their defensive stance, even if they didn’t do much from there.

Ultimately that lack of attention to defensive detail might just drive what should be a very good UCLA team into mediocrity if the Bruins don’t at least attempt to play a little D in the future.

Turning point: Halftime. Why? Because it forced the Bulldogs to cool off a little bit from what started as a torrid shooting night -- topping 54 percent at one point in the first 20 minutes. Without the break, who knows what might have happened. Instead UCLA came out on a mini 5-point break to start the second to tie the score. In the end whatever UCLA might have lacked in energy, it made up for in talent.

Key player: Shabazz Muhammad, and it has nothing to do with his stats. They were good -- he scored 21 -- but it’s his motor that matters. The freshman is the only guy who seemed to play with heart and hustle, going after loose balls while his teammates sort of watched him. Hard to imagine what the Bruins would be without him.

Key stat: 6-of-23, that’s what Georgia shot from the arc. The Bulldogs like to take the outside shot. They just don’t seem terribly adept at hitting it, at least not here this week. If they were going to have a chance in this one, they needed better than that and didn’t get it.

Miscellaneous: The opener of the doubleheader of the Legends Classic was, um, sparsely attended. … The Bruins were without David Wear, who injured his back on Monday night against Georgetown.

Next game: The Bulldogs head home and will face East Tennessee State. The Bruins, meantime, head back West for a chance to gather themselves against Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge, but a Dec. 1 date with San Diego State in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim looms large. If UCLA plays like this, the Aztecs will mop them off the floor.