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An up-tempo UCLA basketball team that struggles to defend?

Ucla It's a good thing UCLA will be wearing blue and gold during its first exhibition game against Westmont on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion, because if the early practice trends hold up the Bruins might be otherwise unrecognizable.

In a 20-minute intrasquad scrimmage Saturday in which they used their new up-tempo offensive attack, the two Bruin squads combined for 123 points and shot 64% from the field.

"We were running up and down pretty good, but we weren't stopping each other very well," Coach Ben Howland said Tuesday afternoon. "It really worries me where we are [defensively] and how quickly these games are coming up."

What did the Bruins struggle with, exactly? Do you have a few minutes?

"Hedging screens, extending screens, trailing cutters, blocking out, staying in front of the ball, contesting every shot, not letting the ball in so easily on post defense ... there's a million areas," Howland said.

On the plus side, junior point guard Lazeric Jones has committed zero turnovers in both of the Bruins' exhibitions in which they have used officials, Howland said. Junior guard Jerime Anderson made nine of 11 shots during Saturday's exhibition. And freshman center Joshua Smith has led the team in rebounding during the team's first 15 practice sessions.

Though Howland wouldn't commit to a starting lineup, the bet here is that he'll go with Jones and Smith in addition to the nucleus of Tyler Honeycutt, Malcolm Lee and Reeves Nelson.

--Ben Bolch

Photo: Tyler Honeycutt. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press

 
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