TAMPA, Fla.--Tyler Honeycutt had a standout performance Thursday night in UCLA's 78-76 victory over Michigan State in the NCAA tournament opener, an act he said fueled in part by pre-game comments made by Spartans' guard Durrell Summers.
"Coach told me during film session before the game exactly what [Summers] thought about me, and I did take it as motivation," said Honeycutt, who had 16 points on five of nine shooting, including three of four three-point baskets.
Honeycutt, averaging 12.6 before that game, set the tone early by scoring a three-pointer on UCLA's first possession and UCLA raced to a 42-24 halftime lead. He also played defense with a high level of energy--something he's been criticized for lacking--and routinely fought for difficult rebounds. He had six rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.
He skied high for a strong rebound with 14 seconds remaining and UCLA clinging to a 77-73 lead. He missed an ensuing pair of free throws but he wasn't alone in that endeavor, and quietly played a complete game with high intensity.
"I wasn't going to go out and play selfish and try to get at him just one-on-one," Honeycutt said of Summers. "I just
wanted to win, and shots opened up for me, everything worked out how we wanted it to."