LOS ANGELES — The will on the part of the Indiana State men’s basketball was there. So was the execution at times, even as six Sycamores made their debut against No. 13 UCLA.
The shots, however, never materialized.
ISU never got into an offensive flow against the defensive-minded Bruins. ISU shot 31.7 percent from the field and paid a heavy price for the misses as the Bruins won 86-59 in Pauley Pavilion’s re-christening.
“Sometimes that’s the way it goes,” said ISU point guard Jake Odum on ISU’s poor shooting. “When things like that happen, you can’t let it affect your defense. In the first half, we didn’t. But in the second half, we did.”
Justin Gant and Khristian Smith co-led ISU with 11 points. Manny Arop added 10. Gant also had eight rebounds. Jordan Adams led the Bruins with 21 points. David Wear had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The shooting woes ISU experienced were felt in myriad ways. The Sycamores were 5 of 26 from 3-point range, including 1 of 11 in the first half.
UCLA is renowned for its defensive prowess under coach Ben Howland, but even he couldn’t credit his team’s defense completely for ISU’s shooting woes.
“Indiana State had some open looks that they missed. They were 5 of 26 from 3-point range. I don’t think we can take all of the credit for that,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
ISU (0-1) was 16 of 26 at the free throw line, but was 4 of 10 in a close first half where the misses really hurt.
Despite the shooting woes, Lansing saw things he liked. Given how many new players the Sycamores had on the floor, and how well UCLA plays defense, offensive ball movement and spacing was solid.
“I saw more positive than negative,” Lansing said. “Our shooting percentages were terrible. I know we’re a better shooting team than that. I think we’ll be OK there.”
Withering defense by both teams made it tough for the Sycamores or Bruins to get any traction. Gant had the honor of making the first bucket in the new Pauley Pavilion – a 3-pointer at 17:11 – but there was little else for either team.
It was 11-all at the 10-minute mark when ISU broke through and took a 14-11 lead with 9:19 left in the half on a R.J. Mahurin three-point play. UCLA answered right back with an and-1 of its own by Norman Powell to tie it five seconds later.
The Powell three-point play kick-started a 9-0 UCLA run. ISU’s troubles at the line became most acute at this juncture of the game. Arop and Devonte Brown both had empty trips to the line, which prevented ISU from gaining momentum.
Despite that, ISU hung in there. Mahurin had a chance to pull ISU within one at the 4:11 mark, but missed a free throw. The Sycamores would shoot 4 of 10 at the line in the first half.
UCLA (1-0) finished the strong thanks to a questionable no-call when Jake Odum appeared to be tripped just after the three-minute mark. Tyler Lamb was able to steal the ball on the no-call and went to the line.
He made one and missed the second, but UCLA rebounded and fed Jordan Adams for a floater. After an Arop 3-point miss, Lamb hit an open 3-pointer in the corner to put the Bruins up 33-23. UCLA would lead by nine at the break.
Odum brushed off the notion that the no-call might have been the play that turned the game.
“I couldn’t really tell what happened. I should have been handling the ball better. It’s the way it goes. When something like that happens, we need to turn around and get a bucket the next time down the floor, not worry about the turnover,” Odum said.
The Sycamores’ shooting woes carried into the second half. ISU missed five of its first six shots from the field to start the half and the Bruins would build their lead to 16 just over five minutes into the half.
“We let some missed shots and negative plays affect us on the defensive end too much in the second half. You can’t let a negative play or adversity affect you and get you quiet. We did that a little too much. It’s the biggest thing we’ll have to work on and get through,” Lansing said.
UCLA’s lead peaked at 19, but the Sycamores gave themselves a glimmer of hope at the 7:25 mark. A Khristian Smith 3-pointer and Arop layup made it 63-52.
But the mini-comeback couldn’t negate ISU’s critical foul trouble. Jake Kitchell fouled out with 9:57 left, while Gant and Mahurin both played with four fouls. UCLA pulled away in the final seven minutes, finishing the game on a 21-7 run. The Bruins shot 41 free throws and made 28 of them.
“Foul trouble hurt us. Kitch fouled out. R.J. and I played with four fouls. It’s hard to be as aggressive when you have four fouls. You can’t attack on defense as much as you want to,” Gant said.
ISU plays its home opener on Tuesday as it hosts Winthrop.
INDIANA STATE (59) – Kitchell 1-1 0-0 2, Arop 4-13 2-2 10, Gant 4-11 2-6 11, Cummings 1-8 0-0 2, Odum 1-5 4-4 6, Eitel 2-2 0-0 6, De. Brown 0-1 2-4 2, R. Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Burnett 0-1 0-0 0, Mahurin 2-10 5-8 9, K. Smith 4-8 1-2 11. 19-60 FG, 16-26 FT, 59 TP.
UCLA (86) – D. Wear 5-13 3-5 13, T. Wear 6-11 5-7 17, Powell 3-8 2-3 9, Anderson 2-5 6-10 10, Drew 0-1 1-2 1, Lamb 1-2 1-2 4, J. Smith 1-1 3-4 5, Adams 7-12 5-6 21, Da. Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Parker 2-3 2-2 6. 27-56 FG, 28-41 FT, 86 TP.
Halftime score – UCLA 36-27. 3-point goals – ISU 5-26 (Eitel 2-2, K. Smith 2-3, Gant 1-3, Cummings 0-6, Arop 0-6, Mahurin 0-4, Odum 0-1, Burnett 0-1), UCLA 4-16 (Adams 2-6, Powell 1-6, Lamb 1-1, D. Wear 0-1, Anderson 0-1, Drew 0-1). Rebounds – ISU 33 (Gant 8, Arop 6, Team 5, Mahurin 3, K. Smith 3, Cummings 2, Odum 2, De. Brown 2, Eitel, Burnett), UCLA 52 (D. Wear 10, Anderson 10, T. Wear 7, Adams 7, J. Smith 5, Powell 3, Lamb 3, Team 3, Drew 2, Parker 2), Assists – ISU 10 (Odum 5, Cummings 3, Arop, De. Brown), UCLA 17 (Drew 5), Steals – ISU 10 (Odum 4, Mahurin 3, Arop, Cummings, K. Smith), UCLA 5 (Lamb 2), Blocks – ISU 2 (Burnett, Mahurin), UCLA 5 (Powell 2), Turnovers – ISU 15 (Arop 4, Odum 3, De. Brown 2, Mahurin 2, Kitchell, Gant, Cummings, Team), UCLA 16 (T. Wear 5), Total fouls – ISU 27, UCLA 19. Fouled out – Kitchell. A – 13,513.
Next – ISU (0-1) plays host to Winthrop and UCLA (1-0) plays host to UC-Irvine on Tuesday.