UCLA beats CS San Marcos 83-60 in exhibition
UCLA got a much-needed chance to work on its man-to-man defense in an unusually timed exhibition game.
Even better, as coach Ben Howland saw it, nobody got hurt in the Bruins' 83-60 victory over Cal State San Marcos on Tuesday night.
"It's odd to be playing an exhibition game in the middle of the season," he said. "No one got hurt. That's always your biggest fear. That would be a disaster."
Especially since the Bruins are down to an eight-man rotation after the recent departures of Tyler Lamb and Joshua Smith.
The Bruins paused their schedule eight games into the regular season to play the Cougars, a contest that had been pushed back so UCLA could open the season in new Pauley Pavilion against Indiana State on Nov. 9.
"It's awkward," Larry Drew II said about the timing of the game. "But every chance to work on your game and get better as a team you want to take advantage of that."
Shabazz Muhammad scored 19 points, Norman Powell added 14 points, and Drew had 10 points and 10 assists for the Bruins. Kyle Anderson grabbed 16 rebounds and David Wear had 12 points.
"We played way more as a team," Muhammad said.
Quincy Lawson scored 14 points, and Ali Langford added 10 for the NAIA independent Cougars, who have a 7-3 record and seven former Division I players on their roster. The Bruins held the Cougars to 38 percent shooting in a sloppy game for both teams.
"Our team got better and we improved on a lot of things," Lawson said.
The contest gave the struggling Bruins, including their three freshmen starters, another chance to mesh in game conditions but without the pressure of needing a win that counts. At 5-3, they've struggled with getting that done and next play Texas in Houston on Saturday.
They certainly needed the practice. UCLA committed 21 turnovers.
"That was the most pressure we've seen man-to-man all year," Drew said. "It's something we're going to see a lot more coming up."
The game was also a chance to return to their preferred man-to-man defense. San Marcos coach Jim Saia, a former UCLA and Southern California assistant, had agreed in advance to have his team play man-to-man for half the game. The Cougars went one better and did so the entire 40 minutes.
"We did, and hopefully it made UCLA better and us better," said Saia, who was impressed in his first visit to the renovated arena. "I have a lot of memories here. UCLA did it right, it is a beautiful place."
The Bruins gave themselves mixed grades on their defensive prowess.
"We got a little ways to go," Wear said. "We need to stop lapses in defense. A couple more practices and we'll really see some improvement."
The Bruins raced to a 10-point lead to start the game before the Cougars used a 13-4 run to close within one. The Bruins responded with nine straight points and pulled away to a 42-30 halftime lead.
San Marcos never got that close in the second half. Muhammad scored eight of UCLA's first 10 points for a 52-33 lead. The Bruins stretched it to 17 points with about 5 minutes left.
Tony Parker returned to action for UCLA, with three points and eight rebounds, in the freshman's first game since he sprained his left ankle during pre-game warm ups last Wednesday.
The game wasn't televised and attracted a sparse crowd with the main student section empty except for some security personnel who got rare front-row seats. At times, the arena was so quiet that individual hecklers could be heard clearly.