Game Notes: CSUF at UCLA
Crickets at the Pavilion? Really?
by Sean Ceglinsky
Let the games begin. Let the upsets begin.
In an unprecedented move, ESPN began its around-the-clock coverage of college basketball on Monday night with the Cal State Fullerton and UCLA game, the first of 12 contests that the network planned to air on one channel over a 24-hour span.
Not to be outdone, SLAMonline was also in attendance. That’s right, we were in the house, and our appearance in Westwood turned out to be a pretty good idea considering the Titans pulled off the 68-65 upset in double overtime at Pauley Pavilion.
Somewhere, John Wooden is shaking his head in disgust.
The tip was set in motion at 9 p.m., PST, a tad bit late for us on the West Coast and an unheard of thing for those on the other side of the country. Then again, before Monday, the Bruins losing to the Titans was an unheard of thing.
Nevertheless, Cal St. Fullerton ended up defeating UCLA for the first time in 10 career meetings between the Southern California schools and snapped the Bruins’ 37 game winning streak at home against unranked, non Pac-10 Conference teams.
*** The Bruin backers create quite a buzz before things get started. Alumni and students alike are chomping at the bit to see how UCLA responds in its first game without Jrue Holiday and Darren Collison, both selected in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft.
*** Malcolm Lee looks relaxed during warm-ups. He is, after all, used to being in the spotlight. It‘s worth mentioning that the Bruins sophomore played in the McDonald’s All-American Game a couple years ago, alongside Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans and DeMar DeRozan, cats who are currently making a name for themselves in the League.
*** For those unfamiliar with Cal St. Fullerton, here’s some interesting background information about the relatively unknown Titans. They were picked to finish seventh out of nine teams in the Big West Conference. Think UCLA is worried about the bottom-feeders?
*** Any exposure is good exposure, at least that appeared to be the message Titans coach Bob Burton was trying to get across to the media beforehand. He said: “What could be better than to be playing UCLA in Pauley Pavilion on ESPN… Unless we get our tails kicked… It will be a whole different world for our kids.’’
*** Both teams come out cold. Ice cold, that is. Finally, at 17:16, the Titans score the first points of the game, on a layup by Bryce Webster. It’s about time.
*** The Bruins get on the board, but it takes nearly four minutes to do so. Lee gets to the hoop for a bucket to cut the Cal St. Fullerton lead to three points with 16:29 left.
*** Suppose these guys should be given a pass. ESPN is televising the game nationally. Perhaps the pre-game jitters are tough to shake and looming much longer than expected.
*** Michael Roll nails a three-pointer for UCLA at 12:26, and the next time down the floor, he finds Drew Gordon along the baseline for a two-handed dunk to tie the score, 11-11.
*** Lee begins finding his rhythm, always a good thing for the Bruins. He scores 6 consecutive points to give UCLA one of its few leads, 17-15 at 7:55, before intermission.
*** Aaron Thompson answers for the Titans. The Los Angeles native has 8 points over the course of the final 4:53 to give Cal St. Fullerton a five-point lead at the break. He finishes the night with a career-high 22 points and nine rebounds.
*** In the opening minutes, Lee goes down with what appears to be some kind of leg problem, perhaps a knee. No news on the severity of the injury at this stage of the game.
*** A Jer’Vaughn Johnson jumper extends the advantage to eight points and Thompson follows with basket to give the Titans their biggest lead of the game, 41-31, with 15:48 left.
*** Lee returns, the Bruins step up the defensive pressure, go on a 9-0 run and hold Cal St. Fullerton scoreless for more than five minutes. At 10:33, the deficit is cut to 43-42.
*** Minutes later, Gerard Anderson flexes his muscle. He dribbles the length of the floor, fending off the pesky Lee the entire way, takes the ball to the hole and ends up posterizing Nikola Dragovic, throwing down a one-handed dunk. The momentum-changing play enables the Titans to regain the lead, 52-50, with 4:02 left on the clock.
*** Tied at 57-57 with less than :10 in regulation, Jerime Anderson gets a really good look at the basket for the Bruins, but his floater goes in and out as time expires.
*** Nothing exciting to report from the first five minute extra session.
*** Anderson makes a free-throw and Jacques Streeter adds two of his own for the Titans. Roll knocks down a three-pointer and Lee misses one from downtown at the buzzer.
*** Thompson is at it once again. His jumper gives the Titans some confidence and Streeter makes a three-pointer. All of a sudden the Bruins are down 65-60 with 2:20 left in the game. At this point, you can hear a pin drop in Pauley Pavilion.
*** After getting dunked on, Dragovic attempts to atone for his earlier mistake by hitting a big three-pointer. Before that shot, he was 1-11 from the field and 1-7 from beyond the arc. UCLA trails by a basket at 1:51. Maybe, just maybe, the Bruins have a chance.
*** Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be. Lee gets a tough shot along the baseline to fall with :27 left, but the Titans put the game away with free-throws down the stretch.
*** Lee finishes with 17 points. Roll ends up with 17 points as well. Reeves Nelson scores 11 off the bench. Beyond that, the contributions are few and far between.
*** Burns was all smiles afterward, saying: “I was very happy with the way we played tonight. We still have a long ways to go, but we played together and ran the fast break well. We got the jitters out of the way.’’ And the Titans got the proverbial monkey off their back with the big-time win over a big-time program.
*** Made every attempt to track down UCLA coach Ben Howland when all was said and done, but wasn’t able to find him anywhere. In all honesty, his absence was expected, not the least bit surprising, given the fact his team played so poorly. Can’t imagine anyone got a good quote from the Bruins head honcho after this one.