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UCLA basketball's interior duo designs exhibition game victory

Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson help Bruins overcome a mostly shaky performance and beat Cal State San Bernardino, 80-72. Smith gets 26 points and seven rebounds; Nelson has 16 points, 10 rebounds.

November 06, 2011|By Ben Bolch
  • UCLA forward Reeves Nelson has his shot blocked by Cal State San Bernardino's D.J. Shumpert in the first half Sunday during an exhibition game in Ontario.
UCLA forward Reeves Nelson has his shot blocked by Cal State San Bernardino's… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

There was a roll call, a familiar voice over the public address system and even the fan with blue hair heckling opponents when they shot free throws.

Good thing UCLA also remembered to pack Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson for the start of its season-long show.

The interior duo helped the Bruins overcome a mostly ragged performance during an 80-72 exhibition victory over Cal State San Bernardino on Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.

Smith's 26 points and seven rebounds were complemented by Nelson's 16 points, 10 rebounds and one commandment to his teammates.

"Get the ball to Josh!" Nelson yelled while coming out of the game during a substitution.

The Bruins complied, particularly during a stretch with about six minutes left in which guards Tyler Lamb and Lazeric Jones found the sophomore center underneath the basket on back-to-back possessions to sustain a 9-0 run that wiped out a two-point deficit.

"All the guys get it," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "Getting the ball to Josh is going to get a lot of good things for us."

Smith made six of 12 shots and 14 of 18 free throws, the latter statistic particularly encouraging for a player who figures to spend a lot of time at the foul line in coming months. Howland said Smith had made 25 of 32 free throws, including at a recent closed scrimmage.

There were also a handful of less pleasing developments for UCLA. The Bruins struggled with perimeter defense and rushed shots against the Division II Coyotes, who had a large and vocal contingent among the crowd of 6,259.

"It was kind of an away game, something we'll get used to," Nelson said.

UCLA backup point guard Jerime Anderson sat out the game while starting his two-game suspension in connection with the theft of a laptop computer. He will also miss the Bruins' opener against Loyola Marymount on Friday at the Sports Arena.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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