Bruins struggle inside in loss to Arizona State

Never one shy to call a timeout, Ben Howland needed all of the timeouts he could get in the first half of UCLA’s Pac-12 conference game at Arizona State on Saturday.

He called three timeouts and if he could have used the other two and somehow still had some remaining in the second half, he would have done that as well.

The Bruins just couldn’t get enough stops on the defensive end.

Cleary, it was disconcerting for the Bruins head coach who takes so much pride in defense to see his team get sliced and diced off of the dribble, unable to stop penetration or anything else the Sun Devils threw at them in UCLA’s 78-60 loss in Tempe — the most lopsided loss for the Bruins (16-5, 6-2 Pac-12) against Arizona State (16-4, 5-2 Pac-12) since 2003.
Twenty eight of Arizona State’s 39 first half points were in the paint. The penetration of Jahii Carson, Evan Gordon and Carrick Felix became just impossible to guard for UCLA.
While he wasn’t torching the nets the way he’s done the majority of the season, Carson, who finished with a game-high eight assists, was masterful in his job as a facilitator for Arizona State.

The primary beneficiary of Carson’s wizardry was 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski.
The Bruins were hit with what appeared to be one pick and roll after another. Bachynski would have been perfect from the field in the first half, had it not been for an ill-advised attempt at a dunk while trying to beat the first half buzzer.

He had 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the half and he and his teammates provided just as many problems for UCLA in the second half. Bachynski finished with a double-double, tallying 22 points and 15 rebounds (eight offensive). He also had six blocks.

The Bruins had no answer for him inside. Already down a man with Travis Wear out with a concussion, more minutes became available for 6-foot-9 275-pound freshman Tony Parker but he was clearly outmanned, along with every other Bruin that tried his hand at trying to slow down the Sun Devils’ 7-foot-2 center.

Four of the five starters finished in double figures for Arizona State led by Felix’s 23 points. Carson and Gordon chipped in 12 points each.
If stopping penetration was concern No. 1 for the Bruins on Saturday, rebounding would be listed as 1A.

For the huge step they took in rebounding the basketball on Thursday night at Arizona, they took a giant step back on Saturday afternoon, being royally outclassed on the boards for the second consecutive Saturday afternoon. Arizona State outrebounded UCLA, 49-29. They allowed 13 Arizona State offensive rebounds.

As much as the Bruins struggled on the defensive end of the floor, allowing the Sun Devils to shoot 46.9 percent from the field, the offense wasn’t any better. UCLA was held to a season low 34.7 percent shooting.

The 60 points tied a season low for the Bruins, who entered the game averaging 77.9 points per game on the season. Ten times they had their shots blocked by the Sun Devils and there was no such thing as concession baskets on this afternoon.

With five seconds left to play, Jordan Adams stole the ball away from Gordon as he was trying to dribble the clock out. Adams had what he thought was a breakaway layup but he was chased down from behind and blocked by Felix as time expired in the game.
That all but summed up the domination for the Sun Devils on Saturday.

The Bruins, who entered the game as the lone one-loss team in Pac-12 play, now find themselves in a logjam among four two-loss teams which includes Arizona, Arizona State, and Washington.