Halftime: Memphis 38, UCLA 35
With one half in the books, here are a few observations on the action.
1. UCLA does not have a defensive answer for Derrick Rose.
While it was CDR who got off to the hot start early on (4-4, 10 pts early; 13 total), he eventually cooled off thanks to the defense of Russell Westbrook. But Darren Collison hasn't had as much success in dealing with Rose (11 points), who has made his way to the rim whenever he wanted to in the first stanza. If the Bruins are to win this game, this has to change.
2. The importance of Kevin Love can't be understated, especially on the offensive end of the floor.
The times in which the freshman sensation has been on the bench seemed to be aligned with some poor shot selection by the Bruins. While Memphis has also forced up some wild attempts, they play a faster tempo that allows them to get away with that in some regards. UCLA needs to keep the tempo at a "60's pace" as opposed to the current "70's pace" (referring to final score). The speed has also resulted in seven Bruin turnovers, too many if they want to win this game.
3. A key development for the second half: Memphis' big men and the number of fouls they have.
Both Joey Dorsey and Shawn Taggart have two fouls heading into the game's final twenty minutes. If one or both heads to the bench for good then they could be in serious trouble as that would mean more room to roam for Love. If they can stay away from their third personal through the under 16 timeout, I think Memphis is in good shape.
Some personal notes:
1. I have to wonder if Billy Packer has seen Memphis play outside of the South Regional last week.
Some of his "observations" on the Tigers have been interesting to say the least. The worst: the repeated implication that Derrick Rose has always been a prolific scorer this season, just now developing into an all-around floor general. Huh? Wouldn't it be the exact opposite in regards to his season thus far. He's always been able to get his shot, yes, but he made the effort to defer to other options all season long.
2. Jerryd Bayless is going pro. And he hired an agent.
Bayless is a lottery pick right now, but you have to seriously wonder if Lute Olson's leave of absence affected his thought process. Yes, he can tell players and prospective recruits that he's in it for the long haul, but how can you be 100% sure right now? I wouldn't be shocked if Chase Budinger decided to leave as well.