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Bruins find an easy target in victory over Cougars

UCLA shoots 62% from the field and has no trouble in beating Washington State, 76-62, at Pauley Pavilion.

February 09, 2013|By Chris Foster

This wasn't the Washington Generals that UCLA faced Saturday night -- just Washington State.

The Cougars were a day at the spa for the Bruins, a chance to work out the kinks. The 76-62 victory over the hapless Cougars at Pauley Pavilion was the sorbet between heavy courses.

Now comes the meaty part of the schedule.

The victory left the Bruins (18-6, 8-3 Pac-12) either tied for second with Oregon or tied for first, depending on whether seventh-ranked Arizona can handle California on Sunday. But the Bruins play five of their last seven regular-season games on the road.

"This is a tough conference," guard Kyle Anderson said. "Every game is tough."

Well, not every game.

The Bruins needed a last-second jumper by Larry Drew II to beat Washington on Thursday. That type of heroics was not going to be necessary to beat the last-place Cougars (11-13, 2-9).

Still, Anderson said, "I think Coach is happy with us."

The 22 assists as a team certainly made Coach Ben Howland smile.

"We got some good looks and open shots by being unselfish and making the extra pass," Howland said. "When we play like that, then we're a very good offensive team."

UCLA shot 62%. The last time the Bruins shot better than 60% was against Washington State in 2010.

Drew had eight assists and Anderson seven. Shabazz Muhammad even had two, but Muhammad was not brought to UCLA to pass. He had 17 points, leading four Bruins in double figures.

When the stat-fest was over, the Bruins were about where they expected to be in the standings.

"This is great, because we're 8-3, we're right there now," Howland said.

Staying there will require a little road work, something Howland put a positive spin on. "Sometimes with a young team, going on the road there are less distractions," he said. "In some ways it could be a good thing."

Howland also noted that a number of Pac-12 teams have lost at home this season.

"I don't know how to explain, except that anybody can beat anybody," Howland said. "It's hard to win in this conference whether you're home or on the road."

It's tough for Washington State to win against UCLA anywhere. The Cougars would have to win the next 88 games against the Bruins to even the series.

This one was over about the time the Bruins broke a sweat. They went on a 14-0 run, holding the Cougars scoreless for nine minutes, to take a 32-16 lead.

All the recent offensive struggles for UCLA evaporated.

The Bruins had shot under 40% the last three games. But the Cougars rarely contested jump shots and often gave safe passage on drives to the basket.

It made for a lot of healing. Jordan Adams, who was 15 for 42 from the field the previous three games, made five of eight shots and scored 14 points. Anderson, who was seven for 28 the last three games, made six of seven and scored 12.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosteraltimes

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