NCAAB – West: UCLA continues its Inconsistent Play

By David A.

The UCLA Bruins finished last week 1-1 in the state of Arizona. The Bruins knocked off the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats Thursday, but the flat looking Bruins lost on Saturday to the Arizona State Sun Devils.

This roller coaster ride for the Bruins is becoming all too familiar. Just when many basketball fans and sports writers think the Bruins will rise to the top of the Pac-12 conference, they play uninspiring, sluggish almost not interested basketball.

UCLA looked as though it had put its early season struggles behind them with 10 straight wins and their win over Arizona following a difficult loss. However, they turn around just two days later and lose to a team that is less talented.

As is the case many times, a won loss record will dictate where the team stands against other teams in its conference or national rankings, but it does not answer the question of the quality of a particular team or what kind of heart the team has.

With the loss, the Bruins fall to 6-2 in the conference and are now in second place. Overall, the Bruins are a very respectable 16-5, but somehow before the postseason arrives the team must find consistency in its game.

The team’s focus must get better, as they must learn that no matter what the quality of their opponent is, they must be equally focused in each and every game or their games against lesser opponents could be lost. The loss to Arizona State is a perfect example of that.

The team can uses excuses such as Travis Wear was hurt and could not play and his replacement, David, his brother shot 2 for 12 and had just five points. Shabazz Muhammad, the team’s talented freshmen and quite possibly a lottery pick in the NBA at the end of this season played less than inspired basketball and UCLA needs him to be at his best each game.

The excuses the Bruins used in their loss against the Sun Devils were less than the ones they could have used in their win against the Wildcats.

In the Wildcats win, the Bruins had two keys players Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams sick with stomach viruses and Travis West out for the second half with a head injury. However, the team showed up to play that game, much different than they did against the Sun Devils.

Even though Muhammad did not show up for the first half of the Arizona State game, his talent in the second half proved that he can nearly single handedly change the course of a game. He helped bring the Bruins back to within striking distance when he scored nine straight points during the second half.

Larry Drew II also showed his senior experience on the court for the Bruins with clutch late game decision making and three pressure packed jumpers over the game’s last five minutes.

However, it did not matter in the end as UCLA carried on this season’s unpredictability. The team is loaded with talent, but potential cannot win games, playing on the court does that.

The Bruins must find their way if they plan to win the Pac-12 and make a good showing in the NCAA tournament.