UCLA defeats Long Beach State 89-70By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, Dec 19, 2012
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Larry Drew II got an earful from the UCLA coaching staff at practice about how he had to contain Long Beach State guard Mike Caffey for the Bruins to have a chance at winning.
Drew II responded on Tuesday night with 14 points and nine assists while limiting Caffey to six points in the Bruins’ 89-70 victory that was their third in a row. Drew II had just one turnover for the second straight game, and his 92 assists through the team’s first 11 games is the best start for any UCLA player in coach Ben Howland’s 10 seasons.
“That’s Larry Drew’s best game at UCLA,” said Howland of the senior playing his first season in Westwood since transferring from North Carolina. “When he is playing like that defensively, that makes everyone else’s job much easier. He played his tail off.”
Jordan Adams scored 24 points—two off his career high—and Shabazz Muhammad added 21 to help the Bruins (8-3) tie their longest winning streak of the season. They opened with three straight victories before losing two of their next three to fall out of the Top 25.
Asked if the freshmen-dominated Bruins are gaining confidence, Howland replied, “I sure hope so. That’s what we’re striving for.”
Dan Jennings, a West Virginia transfer, scored a career-high 27 points for the 49ers (4-7). They have lost four of five and fell to 1-12 all-time against the Bruins in the teams’ first meeting since 2009, when Long Beach earned its only win. James Ennis added 20 points.
“I don’t think we ever made them uncomfortable,” 49ers coach Dan Monson said. “I don’t think we ever got two or three stops in a row all game. Defensively, we have lost some confidence. I don’t think we trust each other defensively to do our jobs. Seventy points should be enough to win, but it wasn’t even close.”
Caffey was 2 of 10 from the field and missed seven of his nine 3-point attempts while committing three turnovers in 40 minutes. He averages 10.9 points.
“Given my speed and quickness, he (Howland) wants me to pressure to the best of my ability,” Drew II said. “I just took it upon myself to go out there and try to stop him. He kept his poise pretty well, but he did have an off-game.”
Jennings and Ennis carried the 49ers in the second half despite being two of four players in foul trouble. They closed within seven points early in the half on a pair of free throws by Ennis. His 3-pointer drew Long Beach to 66-59 before the Bruins began pulling away.
“No matter how good I played, we lost and it’s irrelevant about my stats,” Jennings said. “We got the loss and I am really into winning.”
UCLA got balanced scoring in a 15-5 run that extended its lead to 81-64. Adams, Muhammad and Drew II each hit 3-pointers, while Muhammad had four more points in the spurt. The Bruins shot 59 percent from the field, just off their season high of 59 percent against James Madison.
Freshmen Adams and Muhammad have been UCLA’s top scorers in nine of their 11 games. Muhammad was coming off a career-high 25 points against Prairie View A&M, and has scored in double figures in all eight of the games he’s played in since becoming eligible.
“It was a great thing when I have another guy who scores as well as I can,” Muhammad said about Adams.
The Bruins led by 12 points in the first half, when they shot 54 percent. Adams scored 16 points, going 5 of 7 from the field.
Edgar Garibay, who is one of four Division I transfers for the 49ers, saw his first playing time of the season. The Loyola Marymount transfer was scoreless after becoming eligible when his grades for the first semester were posted in time for the game.
Hall of Famers Jerry West and Oscar Robertson sat together on the baseline. Muhammad realized they were there when he saw them on the video board.
“Those are the best,” he said. “Just knowing we got to respect the game knowing they’re here. It’s a good atmosphere for us.”