Cougars `D’ is `weak’ but effective


first_imgUCLA is second in the Pac 10 in 3-point percentage (38.1), paced by point guard and conference leader Darren Collison’s 49.4 percent. Bruins guard Arron Afflalo is shooting 39.6 percent from three. But the Cougars are allowing a league-low 57.8 points per game, are second in field goal percentage defense (39.4), and fourth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (32.5). “They’re really athletic,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “They’re second in the league in blocked shots, so they do a lot of things very well, and they’re obviously very well coached.” What’s at stake A UCLA win gives the first-place Bruins (25-3, 14-2 Pac-10) the outright conference title. Washington State (23-5, 12-4) can still share the crown with the Bruins, but that would mean the Cougars sweep UCLA and USC this weekend, and UCLA also loses at Washington. “They kind of play off on defense, not really aggressive … it’s kind of weak and they try to play the passing lanes,” Shipp said. “Basically, we just have to knock down shots and force them to get out and run.” In that sense, it is a matchup of contrasting strengths. Doc knows best? Bruins center Lorenzo Mata was poked in the right eye in Saturday’s second half against Stanford, and was bothered enough to have a CAT-scan Monday. Mata said “I’m pretty sure there’s nothing wrong with my eye,” but added doctors recommended he wear goggles for protection. To that, Mata laughed. “I’m not wearing goggles,” Mata said. “I don’t think it’s necessary. My eye is all right.” Culture shock Howland said Cougars forward Ivory Clark “might be the most underrated player in our conference.” Clark also rates high on the conference’s list when it came to the level of culture shock he experienced upon enrolling at Washington State. He is from New Orleans, played for an NAIA school (Dillard University) before transferring to Midland (Tex.) College. He then was recruited by New Mexico, Wichita State, South Florida and Marshall before Wazzu came calling. “It was a very different environment than New Orleans,” Clark said. “It was a tranquil and peaceful place that kind of soothed me, and sat well with me.” Clark is averaging 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img LOS ANGELES – Washington State leads the Pacific-10 Conference in scoring defense and second in field goal-percentage defense, and is a headache for opposing teams because of the slower tempo of games. However, when No. 2 UCLA travels to face the 13th-ranked Cougars on Thursday, Bruins wing Josh Shipp said they know what it will take to trump Wazzu’s defense. last_img read more