Norman Powell didn’t have his best shooting night during UCLA’s 85-74 win over USC, but it didn’t matter much in the big picture. In an up-and-down season, the Bruins clinched a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament — something they couldn’t have done without the player the senior that developed into their leading scorer.
The 6-foot-4 guard walked off the Pauley Pavilion floor with 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“It was really emotional,” he said. “I’m just glad we were able to get a win. … Being able to sweep them this year and be the kings of L.A., I’m going to remember that forever.”
Three-star forward Alex Olesinski has committed to UCLA, according to Scout.com, giving the Bruins the third member of their 2015 class. The team has already signed four-star guards Aaron Holiday and Prince Ali.
The 6-foot-9, 200-pound Olesinski is a New Mexico native who transferred to La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere for his final two seasons of high school basketball. He picked up offers from UCLA and UNLV in early February.
New UCLA commit Alex Olesinski is an undervalued utility man. He has a nose for the ball, can shoot & defend multiple positions.
— Alex Kline (@TheRecruitScoop) March 5, 2015
Olesinski’s older brother, Marek is a senior forward at Air Force who is second on the team with 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, and also shoots 40.2 percent from 3-point range. His sister, Anna, runs cross country and track for Air Force.
Their parents, Marie and Jan, were members of the Polish national basketball and pentathlon teams, respectively.
UCLA beat USC, 85-74, on Wednesday to clinch the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament — also ensuring a last-place finish for the Trojans. The Bruins will need to win at least one game in Las Vegas to stay in the NCAA Tournament picture.
“We’ve still got work to do, just like a lot of teams in the country,” head coach Steve Alford said. “You can’t stop. You’ve got work to do. This team’s playing better. It’s playing very good at the right time.”
UCLA held a “Senior Night” ceremony shortly before Wednesday night’s tipoff against USC. Unsurprisingly, starting guard Norman Powell got the loudest reception, drawing a standing ovation from Pauley Pavilion when his name was announced.
Also recognized were walk-on guards David Brown, Nick Kazemi and Kory Alford.
Norman Powell has played in 135 career games for UCLA, a mark bested by only a handful of other Bruins in program history. Along the way, he has gone from little-used benchwarmer to one of the most exciting driving guards in the conference.
He has also gone 7-1 against USC, becoming the first UCLA player to get a career road sweep against the Trojans since Toby Bailey did from 1995-98.
It’s fitting then that the 6-foot-4 guard will get to face the crosstown rival on Wednesday at 6 p.m., his last game ever at Pauley Pavilion barring a trip to the NIT. Asked about playing the Trojans, Powell relayed a message he said head coach Steve Alford had used to open the week.
Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel has left Pac-12 Networks for CBS Sports, the latter announced today.
Neuheisel compiled a lackluster 21-29 record with the Bruins from 2008-11, but soon took a job as a broadcaster with the conference’s then-fledgling record. The 54-year-old was a natural on television, and was also fun to watch when he interviewed his son/doppelganger, backup UCLA quarterback Jerry Neuheisel.
The elder Neuheisel will be an analyst on CBS Sports’ “College Football Today” pregame show, as well as a regular part of the weekly show “Inside College Football.” He will start his new position in September.
“Rick’s enthusiasm, football acumen and experience on the field and the sidelines make him a natural on television,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. “His addition strengthens our college football announce team and we look forward to showcasing his sharp insight and analysis across CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network.”
Here he is singing “Born in the SEC”:
The Pac-12 Tournament is a little more than a week away, so it’s a good time to look at how the bracket will shake out heading into the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Below are the current conference standings, along with each team’s outlook and remaining schedule (plus kenpom.com win probabilities). The tie-breaking rules are here, if anyone wants to figure out all the possible scenarios in the Pac-12′s weird, muddled middle.
1. Arizona (14-2) — 3/5 vs. Cal (97%), 3/7 vs. Stanford (92%)
Arizona has already clinched the top seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.
2. Utah (12-4) — 3/5 at Washington State (91%), 3/7 at Washington (86%)
Utah’s chance at a regular-season title slipped away when it lost to the Wildcats last Saturday. The Utes remain a strong bet to finish second barring an unthinkable collapse on its final road trip.
3. Oregon (12-5) — 3/4 at Oregon State (55%)
The Ducks have clinched at least third, and still have a chance to steal the No. 2-seed away from Utah. If they finish with the same record, Oregon holds the head-to-head tiebreaker due to its 69-58 upset of the Utes on Feb. 22.
4. UCLA (10-7) — 3/4 vs. USC (87%)
Even if the Bruins somehow implode in their regular-season finale, they will likely remain in fourth place due to their head-to-head tiebreaker against Stanford.
5. Stanford (9-7) — 3/5 at ASU (43%), 3/7 at Arizona (8%)
Even if Stanford wins out, it wouldn’t move up in the standings unless UCLA also loses to USC. If the Cardinal split their Arizona trip, they will stand alone in fifth. If they lose out, a few tiebreaker scenarios would emerge. Continue reading
Norman Powell has earned yet another Pac-12 Player of the Week award, making him the only player in the conference to do so three times this season.
UCLA’s senior guard scored a career-high 28 points in Sunday night’s 72-67 win over Washington State, hitting a key 3-pointer with 1:34 left as well as 4 of 6 free throws in the final 41 seconds. Four days earlier, he scored 24 in a blowout of Washington.
This was arguably the best statistical two-game stretch of his career, one that saw him shoot 61.8 percent from the field and average 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals. Without his performance against the Cougars, the Bruins’ likely would have slipped off from bubble team to NIT-bound.
Powell also won the conference’s top weekly honor on Nov. 24 and Feb. 2. His third nod moved him past Cal’s Tyrone Wallace and Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, who have both been named Pac-12 Player of the Week twice this season.