Malcolm Mea Culpa, Pt. 2

After watching SDSU get handled by the BYU Jimmers, I had to jump on the blog to give UCLA guard Malcolm Lee some more credit.

A few weeks back, I tore Lee to shreds because of his lack of scoring earlier this year, going as far as saying I thought Lee should lighten up a bit on defense.

Boy was I wrong.

I just saw Jimmer Fredette absolutely shred the Aztecs for 43 points on 14-of-24 shooting, 5-of-8 on threes and 10-of-11 free throws. This was his third 40-point game in his last four.

In UCLA’s 86-79 win over the Jimmers – the Jimmers lone loss of the season – Lee held Fredette to 25 points and seven turnovers, including 17 points in the last 35 minutes (thanks to ultra-twitterer TheMightyBruins for that stat).

Lee has kept it up, shutting down Washington State’s Jared Cunningham, Cal’s Allen Crabbe and Stanford’s Jeremy Green in recent games.

He deserved better from me, and I was wrong.

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Smith cleared, Nelson game-time decision

UCLA freshman center Joshua Smith practiced in full today and has been medically cleared to play tomorrow against Arizona.
That’s the good news…

The bad news?
Sophomore power forward Reeves Nelson was again limited in practice today and is will be a game-time decision against the Wildcats.

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MacLean named to Pac-10 Hall of Honor

From UCLA:

PAC-10 BASKETBALL HALL OF HONOR TO INDUCT 2010-11 CLASS

Six Players from the 90′s Head the List of 10 Former Student-Athletes

The Pac-10 Conference will honor 10 former student-athletes with their induction into the Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor during the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Those individuals to be inducted include: Michael Dickerson (Arizona), Isaac Austin (Arizona State), Bob McKeen (California), Charlie Warren (Oregon), Charlie White (Oregon State), Brevin Knight (Stanford) Don MacLean (UCLA), Harold Miner (USC), Todd MacCulloch (Washington) and Ray Sundquist (Washington State). The induction ceremony will take place on Saturday, March 12 during the Pac-10 Hall of Honor breakfast.
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Sheller Official Release

From UCLA:

UCLA offensive tackle Sean Sheller has been granted an additional season of competition by the NCAA.

Sheller, who started 11 games at offensive left tackle in 2010, missed the entire 2006 season due to a knee injury and the 2008 season due to knee and ankle injuries.

The Bruins now have two returning starters from this season’s offensive line (tackles Sheller and Mike Harris) plus two returning starters from the 2009 season – center Kai Maiava, who missed 2010 due to injury, and guard Jeff Baca, who missed the year due to eligibility issues.

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Huge news for UCLA

Offensive tackle Sean Sheller has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, a huge break for the Bruins.

Sheller’s return gives UCLA crucial depth on the offensive line, which loses Ryan Taylor, Micah Kia and Eddie Williams.

The depth chart could end up looking something like this:

LT: Sean Sheller / Brett Downey
LG: Jeff Baca / Stan Hasiak
C: Kai Maiava / Greg Capella
RG: Chris Ward / Wade Yandall
RT: Mike Harris / Brett Downey

The top reserves should be Hasiak, Yandall and Capella, though I know coaches have been pleased by Downey.

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Smith, Nelson practice lightly, game-time decisions

UCLA freshman center Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson are listed as day-to-day and will be game-time decisions for UCLA’s matchup at Arizona on Thursday.

Smith had what school officials called a “head injury” after hitting his head on the floor against Cal in the first half last Thursday, while Nelson suffered a sprained left ankle against Stanford on Saturday.

Both returned to practice in a “limited” capacity, UCLA said in a release, with Smith involved in contact drills and Nelson held from them.

Howland said Smith would come off the bench on Thursday if he can play, with Anthony Stover continuing to start.

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Jones key to UCLA’s recent success

Much was has been written about Joshua Smiths’ play in Oregon and Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt’s last weekend, but UCLA junior point guard Lazeric Jones is going a bit under the radar.

Jones leads the conference in free-throw shooting at 84.1 percent, and he’s slowly becoming the clutch finisher that Darren Collison was for UCLA during its big run, when he was one of the top free-throw shooters in the country.

I chatted extensively with Jones about his success at the line this season – particularly striking compared to the rest of his team, which is shooting 63 percent on free throws – and he has a great anecdote about one of his big games last season in junior college (and I’ll have the video up later today) and how it prepared him for this year.

Jones came up big against Cal and Stanford, hitting 20-of-23 free throws on his way to a combined 41-point effort in the two wins. He still needs to improve on his passing and decision-making – he has no more than three assists in any of the last six games, after his 11-assist outburst against Washington State.

But it’s clear to see that a major reason for the Bruins’ 13-6 record has been Jones in the clutch.

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