First Look: Texas at UCLA

When I say the name Ben Howland, what comes to your mind? If you're like me, you immediately think of outstanding, physical defense and brutal, ugly as sin offense.

For as long as I can remember, Howland's been putting together big, imposing, knock-you-around teams that rebound exceptionally well, play utterly suffocating defense, and awful to watch offense. So it came as no surprise that when I took a first look at Texas' matchup with UCLA this coming Saturday, the early '07 numbers paint exactly that picture.

Take a look at the Ken Pomeroy UCLA page and the Bruins' national ranking for each metric:

OFFENSE
Raw Efficiency: 88th
Adjusted Efficiency: 100th
Eff. FG%: 157th
Turnover %: 113th
Off. Rebound%: 28th
FT Rate: 84th
3-Point FG%: 155th
2-Point FG%: 160th
Steal%: 28th

DEFENSE
Raw Efficiency: 7th
Adjusted Efficiency: 2nd
Eff. FG%: 44th
Turnover %: 24th
Off. Rebound%: 15th
FT Rate: 28th
3-Point FG%: 25th
2-Point FG%: 92nd
Steal%: 140th

Yup.

Mr. Howland is a popular fellow among Bruins fans, and rightly so in many regards. Back to back Final Fours is nothing to scoff at. But even with all the recruiting prestige that he enjoys at UCLA, I've never had the feeling a Ben Howland team would cut the final nets of the season down. The man simply cannot coach offense. He was an awful offensive coach at Pittsburgh, and he's an awful offensive coach at UCLA.1

Unfortunately for Texas, he's as good a defensive coach as there is in the country, and he certainly has the physical bodies to muscle up opponents, as is his style. The game presents an interesting contrast in styles, as UCLA will seek a slow-paced, physical game and Texas will try to run and push the tempo.

In case you didn't notice, our Longhorns are ranked 1st in both Raw and Adjusted offensive efficiency. What we have not done well at all is clear the glass, and it's there that UCLA figures to present the biggest problem for Texas. Without Gary Johnson playing, it's going to be tough for Texas' frontcourt to deal with all those big bodies UCLA will have in the paint.

It's an interesting matchup, and a great tough test in the early going for the 'Horns. Heading into each team's Wednesday night game (Texas hosts Texas Southern; UCLA faces George Washington), Ken Pomeroy has Texas and UCLA ranked #3 and #4 in the country.

--PB--

1 As I acknowledge in the comments, this is an exaggeration. Howland's teams usually rate well in efficiency when it's all said and done. It's just so u-g-l-y that I can't help but rag on him. Also of note: their point guard Collison hasn't been playing, but is expected to be ready by Saturday. Bad news for Texas.

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