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Bruins look better in final exhibition

UCLA BASKETBALL FYI

UCLA beats Humboldt State, 74-57, as Michael Roll scores 17 points. Bruins open the season Monday against Cal State Fullerton.

November 11, 2009|David Wharton

After last week's scare against Concordia, UCLA Coach Ben Howland was searching for signs of improvement from his team.

On Tuesday night, he got a few.

With a healthier Jerime Anderson and Michael Roll in the lineup, a calmer and more organized-looking Bruins team cruised past Humboldt State, 74-57, in the final exhibition before next week's season opener.

"A lot of people might be second-guessing us after last week," Roll said. "We wanted to play better."

The senior guard led his team with 17 points, one of four Bruins in double figures before a crowd of 6,852 at Pauley Pavilion.

Forward Drew Gordon had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Anderson, sidelined by injury for much of the preseason, played 29 minutes battling leg cramps.

While the offense looked smoother, the defense again struggled to stay in front of the ball, there was no double-team in the post and Humboldt State won the rebounding battle, 46-38.

"Obviously we're concerned about the rebounding," Howland said. "Our offensive rebounding's just not very good right now."

Humboldt State did not look as quick or as confident as Concordia. The Lumberjacks, ranked 21st in the Division II Coaches Poll, were led by Brian Morris' 19 points and Kyle Baxter's 15.

Starting with the opener against Cal State Fullerton on Monday night, UCLA faces a stretch of six games in two weeks, a point that Howland made clear to his players in the locker room.

"We'd better be ready," the coach said, "because it's coming."

Trip West

Harrison Barnes, the top-rated prospect in the nation, is not expected to choose UCLA when he announces his decision on Friday, but he apparently enjoyed his recent visit with the Bruins.

In a diary at HighSchoolHoop.com, the 6-foot-7 forward from Ames, Iowa, talked about staying at the Century Plaza, walking around Santa Monica and having dinner at Howland's home.

"I have to say that he knows his way around the grill," Barnes wrote. "He made a very good steak!"

But the recruit said the highlight of his trip was breakfast with John Wooden.

"That was an unreal experience!" he wrote. "Just sitting in front of Coach Wooden, who in my opinion is the greatest coach in sports history, was awesome. I was just listening to him quote literature and quote other great leaders . . . it was exciting."

Best wishes

UCLA officials responded to news that former Bruins star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been diagnosed with leukemia.

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said the university was shocked to hear about the illness. Howland sent along his best wishes.

"Kareem is the ultimate competitor and with the fight he has, he'll beat this thing," the coach said in a statement.

--

david.wharton@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesWharton

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