UCLA: Mustafa Abdul-Hamid

On Thursday, UCLA extended its win streak in Pullman, Wash., to 17 games. Tonight, the Bruins look to end a five-game skid at Bank of America Arena in Seattle, Wash.

That's easier said than done.

"Seattle is very electric," said redshirt senior Michael Roll, who has been around for UCLA's last four losses at Washington. "The U-Dub fans are very into their team. They're very hostile, we just need to be ready for it."

The task becomes tougher when you add in the fact that Washington will be looking to avenge this:

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN beginning at 6 p.m. Digger Phelps of College Gameday predicts Washington will be determined to offset Mustafa Abdul-Hamid's buzzer-beater:

After winning four of five games (the lone loss coming in overtime), a somewhat disillusioned UCLA team carries a two-game losing streak heading into tonight's game at Washington State.

The Bruins committed a combined 36 turnovers in losses to California and USC. Before then, UCLA had a season-low five turnovers in a home win over Stanford.

Sophomore point guard Malcolm Lee, who made the switch from shooting guard earlier this season, had six turnovers against the Trojans and five against the Golden Bears.

At the team's weekly news conference Tuesday, Lee was asked if he wanted to be UCLA's point guard.

"Yeah, I want to be a point guard," he said sternly. At the off-guard spot earlier in the season, Lee put up as many as 23 shots. Now he's handling the ball a lot more and is being forced to make decisions.

"Coach [Ben Howland] has me there, so I think that's where they want me," Lee added.

Though Lee has admitted he plays "too sped up" at times, he acknowledges ball-handlers can't be passive. UCLA needs to be aggressive, yet careful. To borrow a few words from John Wooden: "Be quick, but don't hurry."

"You still have to play," Lee said.

Mustafa Abdul-Hamid put it best when talking about UCLA's turnover struggles:

"The basketball is the best girlfriend you’ll ever have, so you better treat her right," Abdul-Hamid said. "We haven’t been doing that lately."
So far, UCLA looks determined to prevent a hangover from Thursday’s thrilling win over Washington.

And it seems that coach Ben Howland has taken a liking towards the 2-3 zone defense – once an unfathomable thought in his suffocating man-to-man scheme.

The fun hasn’t stopped for Mustafa Abdul-Hamid, who earned the top play in Thursday night’s Sportscenter. Abdul-Hamid has a team-high eight points as UCLA leads Washington State 30-27 at halftime.

Klay Thompson, the Pac-10’s leading scorer at 23 points per game, has only shot 2-of-8 for six points, while teammate Reggie Moore leads all scorers with 12 points.

UCLA’s zone defense has been a double-edged sword. The Bruins have held the Cougars to 35 percent shooting, but they have allowed nine offensive rebounds.
UCLA students just couldn't contain themselves.

Guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid had just nailed a buzzer-beating, game-winning jump shot to hand the Bruins a dramatic 62-61 victory over Washington when members of "The Den" -- UCLA's student section -- decided to storm the court at Pauley Pavilion.

“I tried to rush off at first,” freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt said. “The next thing you know, we’ve got to head to our bench. I felt people on my back hitting my head. I turned around thinking it was my teammates.”

Wait, students rushing the court at Pauley?

“It was a heat of the moment thing,” Honeycutt said. “It was against Washington, one of the best teams. I don’t blame the students.”

It's somewhat of an unwritten rule, but rushing the court is reserved for upset wins over top-ranked teams. UCLA fans showing excitement by leaving their seats?

"When is the last time you saw North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas rush the court?” fourth-year student Mike Leary said. “You would expect that things like this happen."

An attempt by students to mob center court following Thursday night's win is a true indication of what type of season the Bruins have had. UCLA had lost two straight, including a 21-point drubbing at the hands of crosstown rival USC last Saturday.

The fact that Abdul-Hamid was the player who sent everyone home happy made the thrilling momentum even more emotional. Abdul-Hamid, a former walk-on who turned down a scholarship offer to play at Harvard, has been a fan favorite since the day he first stepped on campus in 2006.

He backed up Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook in recent seasons and was only used late in games with UCLA leading big. But with sophomore guard Jerime Anderson (hip flexor) not in uniform Thursday, Abdul-Hamid was the primary backup to sophomore point guard Malcolm Lee.

“He’s always ready,” coach Ben Howland said with a smile, the relief obvious in his face.

Through his Twitter account (Ben_Howland), the coach said, "The student section was awesome tonight! You guys have no idea how much you helped our team. We have the best student section in the Pac-10!"

Only about half of the student section decided to run onto the court before policemen contained the crowd almost immediately. Everyone was back on the sidelines within a minute of Abdul-Hamid's last-second miracle as game officials reviewed the tape.

"We have 11 championship banners hanging up there,” Leary said, still standing at his front-row seat in the Den. “We hold ourselves to a higher standard. Rushing the court is based on emotion, but when you’re UCLA basketball, you should expect greatness.”

Perhaps rain, combined with the Bruins' historic loss to the Trojans five days prior, prompted fans to stay home. The announced attendance was a meager 6,503 (Pauley has a basketball capacity of 12,819). Freshman forward Reeves Nelson, who already has somewhat of a cult following amongst students, said he was glad to see the student section full when he walked onto the floor for pregame warm-ups. Some had spent the previous night camped out -- rain and all -- outside of Pauley.

"I’ve always had faith in our student section," Nelson said. "It was fun to see them rush the court after a huge win.”

Rain, rain, go away

January, 21, 2010
UCLA and Washington are less than 15 minutes from tipping off at Pauley Pavilion. Both teams have hit the floor for pregame warmups.

Question is, where are the fans?

The sparse showing is perhaps explained because of the rainy weather across Southern California. Or perhaps it's a subtle stand taken by fans following the Bruins' embarrassing 21-point loss to USC last Saturday.

In other news, sophomore point guard Jerime Anderson (hip flexor) is not in uniform for tonight's game. Anderson was injured in a practice leading up the USC game. He was limited to nine minutes off the bench Saturday.

That means sophomore Malcolm Lee will primarily play point guard tonight, but expect redshirt junior Mustafa Abdul-Hamid to see considerable minutes too.



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