The UCLA Bruins accomplished an impressive victory over the Cal Golden Bears on Thursday night, but also improved their defensive presence.
The Bruins would have to take that momentum and utilize against the Stanford Cardinal, who came off of a heartbreaking one point loss to USC on Thursday night.
UCLA acquired the 68-60 victory over Stanford thanks in large part to the brilliant play of Shabazz Muhammad who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, that helped UCLA achieve a seven game winning streak.
Muhammad started off sluggish once again where the Wear twins David and Travis picked up the slack, scoring the Bruins first 15 points. Despite the poor shooting of the Cardinal who were 7 for 26 in the first half, the Bruin decided to match that with 9 for 25 shooting.
"I don't want to rush it. The Wears started off really hot and I let them do their thing and I played defense," said Muhammad.
Then Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, and Jordan Adams turned on their offense presence creating scoring opportunities, along with being aggressive by driving to the basket and connecting on free throw attempts in the first half.
The Bruins would finish on a 6-3 run that gave them the 30-22 lead at halftime over the Cardinal.
The Bruins turned up the intensity in the second half as they build up a remarkable 15 point lead with a little over six minutes left in the second half. But the Bruins got overconfident and sloppy as they committed eight costly turnovers, that resulted in Stanford converting those into nine points, and allowed them to only trail 57-49.
Stanford's John Cage scored five of those nine points during that drive.
Kyle Anderson lost his focus and missed on three one and ones at the free throw line. Stanford became aggressive behind Chasson Randle's lay up and three pointer, that brought Stanford within five points only trailing 59-54 with 49 seconds left.
After a timeout the Bruins returned more focused and disciplined as they converted on 9 out of 10 from the free throw line down the stretch.
"They get an edge on you. We had to buckle down and play `D' and make free throws down the stretch," said Muhammad.
The defense held Stanford to 34 percent shooting on the day, which is a significant stride for the improving Bruins team defense.
UCLA's Kyle Anderson finished with 5 points and 12 rebounds, Jordan Adams finished with 12 points.
Stanford's Dwight Powell finished with a double-double 17 points to with a career high 13 rebounds. Chasson Randle who was held scoreless against the Trojans on Thursday finished with 17 points as Stanford is now 0-2 in Pac-12 play.
UCLA is now undefeated in Pac-12 play at 2-0 and coach Ben Howland discussed his team's victory. "A win is a beautiful thing!"
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins held his team in a post game meeting for approximately 56 minutes after the loss. "We talked about what we have to do to get better and it was a conversation involving everyone. We held UCLA way under their scoring average, but we have to do a lot better at making shots. We missed too many point-blank shots."
It seems as though this UCLA team is gelling at the right time, Kyle Anderson explained the sudden turn around for the team. "We just bought into playing defense and a collective effort to help each other out." While an excited Muhammad added "We're like a whole different team."
This new and different team will take their talents on the road to face Utah and Colorado. They return home to Pauley Pavilion the following week to face Oregon State and Oregon.