The UCLA Bruins have been the most frustratingly inconsistent team in all of college basketball this season, and with a loss to lowly Washington State (3-14 in the PAC-12 Conference) tonight, the trend has continued.
The PAC-12 matchup was decided within the first ten minutes of the game, as the Cougars raced out to a 25-4 lead, winning by the score of 73 to 61. The Bruins struggled to get anything going on the offensive end of the court, shooting just 38.6 percent from the field, and connecting on 27.6 percent of their long-range attempts.
For the second straight time this season, UCLA followed up a monumental win over a ranked Arizona team with an embarrassing loss.
In their first meeting of the season, the Bruins traveled to Tucson, and came away with their biggest win of the season, defeating then-No. 6 Arizona by the score of 84-73. The game was supposed to be a statement win for the Bruins, yet they got crushed in their next game, losing by 18 points at Arizona State on January 26.
On Saturday, UCLA swept the season series against then-No. 11 Arizona, only to lose to Washington State by 12 points, the same team the Bruins beat by 14 points on February 9. To make matters worse, WSU was riding a nine-game losing streak coming into tonight’s game, losing each game by an average of eight points.
The most significant repercussion from tonight’s loss is its affect on the PAC-12 regular season title race. Barring a miracle, the Bruins have been eliminated from PAC-12 regular season title contention. UCLA would need both No. 19 Oregon and Cal to lose every game left on their schedules. This is incredibly unlikely, as both teams have lost just one game over the past month.
Tonight’s game highlighted UCLA’s inability to make an impact on the glass, which has been a major issue during conference play.
The Bruins are giving up 41.4 rebounds per game, and 14.6 offensive boards per game, which are both dead last in the PAC-12. In tonight’s loss, UCLA was out-rebounded 43 to 20, and allowed the Cougars to grab 18 offensive rebounds, the most the Bruins have given up all season.
UCLA will try to rebound on Saturday, when it travels to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies. With the PAC-12 Tournament starting on March 13, the Bruins will have one final regular season game to tune up for postseason play, and build momentum as they head into the NCAA Tournament.