Nov. 15, 2011
LOS ANGELES - Joshua Smith scored a team-leading 15 points and recorded nine rebounds as the UCLA basketball team lost to Middle Tennessee State, 86-66, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Tuesday evening.
LaRon Dendy led five Middle Tennessee State players in double figures with 16 points as the Blue Raiders rode their hot shooting to improve to 3-0 on the season.
UCLA (0-2) trailed at halftime, 40-32, and was outscored in the second half by a 46-34 margin. The Bruins last opened a season with two losses in 2002-03.
"We broke down a lot of times on defense and left open a lot of shooters," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. "We had a big problem getting in front of the ball defensively. To start the season 0-2 is obviously dissapointing, but I have a lot of confidence in these guys, that they are going to get better and it's a long season."
The Blue Raiders made their first nine three-point field goal attempts, missing their first shot from behind the arc with 1:39 to play in the game. Dendy nailed his only three-point field goal attempt of the game with 37 seconds remaining, helping Middle Tennessee State finish the evening having nailed 10 of its 11 three-pointers.
Travis Wear was the only other UCLA player to score in double figures, totaling 10 points. Jerime Anderson and Norman Powell each tallied nine points, as Anderson dished a game-high six assists in his first contest since returning from a two-game suspension.
"It's frustrating, but I still think we are a good team," Smith said. "Two good teams played tonight, and they just out-played us. We have to give them all the credit. We hit our stride in the middle of last season, so right now it's still early. We have to get it going."
Middle Tennessee State nearly doubled its halftime cushion in the first five minutes of the second half, using a 10-3 run to gain a 50-35 advantage with 16:21 remaining. The Blue Raiders led by as many as 17 points - 58-41 at the 12:32 mark - before UCLA trimmed its deficit to 10 points (61-51) with 10:20 to play.
UCLA trailed by at least 10 points throughout the second half.
The Bruins return to action in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, hosted by Chaminade University at the Lahaina Civic Center on the island of Maui in Lahaina, Hawaii. UCLA faces Chaminade on Monday, Nov. 21, at 6:30 p.m. (PT).