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February 22, 2011UCLA's head coach Ben Howland opened today's presser with high praise for the way Cal played on Sunday stating Cal scored well against the zone and hit some tough shots. Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez made some real tough shots. He pointed that Gutierrez was in a zone.
UCLA went zone because of foul trouble. Brendan Lane did a nice job in the game. Of course he made that huge three, plus a couple buckets close to the basket.
Now comes Arizona State in what now is a huge game. The Sun Devils have been playing very well of late. They had Cal down by seven points with only six-plus minutes on the clock.
UCLA is going to have play their best against ASU and can't be looking ahead to Arizona. That could spell disaster. ASU is better than their record would indicate. The Sun Devils have lost a lot of tough games.
The loss to Cal was critical, but Howland was pleased with how his team fought back to get in the game. Fouls hurt UCLA down the stretch.
Howland was asked about Tyler Honeycutt and his penchant for turning the ball over of late. He said that Honeycutt is looking to pass first. That is part of his game, but Howland would like to see Honeycutt shoot more and pass a little less.
There were a lot of questionable calls against UCLA, but Howland said that Gutierrez, who was having a career game, was very good at selling being fouled.
Cal was able to get a lot of second chances and a lot of that was because there were a lot of long rebounds. It was just one of those things that happen from time to time. The ball was just bouncing away from the Bruins in that Cal game.
Rebounding has improved for the Bruins during conference play opposed to non-conference and Howland is not worried about Honeycutt being blanked in the rebounding department against Cal and does not think that will happen again. Remember the ball was having a tendency to bounce away.
Though Howland doesn't like to look ahead and didn't want to talk about Arizona, but he couldn't resist talking about talking about how good a player Derrick Williams is and it was clear to see his admiration for him as a player.
The Bruins are playing more positional defense than pressure and because they are doing so the Bruins aren't causing as many turnovers as they have in previous years, but they are keeping the opposition shooting at lower percentage.
Howland stayed on topic with his respect for ASU and even mentioned that two of Arizona State's losses were when Rihards Kuksiks was out with a concussion.
Howland expects Kuksiks and Ty Abbott to play on Thursday.
The reason that UCLA lost against Cal on Sunday was that they shot below 30 percent in the first half. You are not going to beat too many teams when you shoot below freezing temperature.
Add that to the fact that Cal had way too many second hand chances to score and they were able to convert on many of those chances,
Cal went against their grain and played man defense to start the game, which surprised the young Bruin basketball team. It took them some time to find their rhythm.
Howland couldn't be more adamant that ASU is not a trap game. UCLA has to win this game. There is no wiggle room here, a win is a must.
Howland said he has to get the message out that there has to be a sense of urgency to Thursday's contest against ASU.
Interesting stat on the season. UCLA is 0-3 on Sunday, but are a perfect 7-0 on Saturday.