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December 5, 2008Going into UCLA's game against Texas, it was said by coaches and players alike, that after the game they were going to have a better idea of how they stack up against top competition, on the road. Win or lose this game was going to tell them where they are as a basketball team and what would be needed to improve as a team.
The Bruins (4-2) fell to the Longhorns in a hard fought game 68-64. The Longhorns (6-1) were led by their sharpshooting senior guard A.J. Abrams who led all scorers and tied his career best with 31 points. When it was money time, Abrams was money.
Also helping the Longhorn's cause was their junior forward Damion James who led the Longhorns in rebounds with 13 and to complete the double-double, he added 13 points.
When the Longhorns needed one of their two stars to step up in crunch time one of them did and that was one of the differences that enabled Texas to hold on to the victory.
UCLA fought hard to get back into this game after trailing at halftime by nine points and even expanded that lead to ten on a night where the new Texas defense was very tough against a Bruin offense that is still trying to get its sea legs.
The Bruins made the Longhorns a tad nervous when they went on a 13-2 lead in the second half to take the lead, but Texas is a good team, and they did what good teams do. When the pressure is on most good teams make the plays that help their team win.
With the game notched up at 62, with 2:56 left on the clock, Abrams drilled a three. The Bruins would follow with another deuce and then the Longhorn defense put the clamps on the Bruins and even though they had several opportunities, UCLA did not score again.
UCLA shot 39.4 percent from the field, 36.8 from beyond three and only 50 percent from the foul line. Again in a four point game, you have to make everything count and the Bruins just couldn't muster up the offense against a good team at home.
Darren Collison led the Bruins with 22 points and Josh Shipp had a solid game scoring 15 points, but missed the front end of a one plus one situation when the Bruins needed most.
The Bruins defense played much better in the second half and that was the main reason they were able to get back in the game.
UCLA's offense needs work and they need to get another consistent scorer other than Collison.
On the positive note, the Bruins only lost by four, that is two buckets, and on the road in front of a hostile full house, with a very young team, running an offense that needs work.
There is very good reason to believe that this team will give Bruins fans much to be proud of in the coming weeks.