UCLA trio makes Freshman of the Year watchlist

Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson all landed on the midseason watchlist for the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award — a 12-man group selected by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. The news isn’t a huge surprise given that the trio accounts for 52.7 percent of UCLA’s scoring and 45 percent of its rebounding.

Here’s the complete list in alphabetical order: Continue reading

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Happy birthday, Jackie Robinson

In case you haven’t seen this yet, here’s the Google Doodle commemorating Jackie Robinson’s 94th birthday. In addition to breaking baseball’s racial barriers, he lettered in baseball, basketball, track at UCLA, and was the last African American to lead the football team in passing until Brett Hundley.

You can also click through to the trailer for the upcoming biopic “42″, which anachronistically features Jay-Z as the backing soundtrack.

Also, an excerpt from a 1987 Sports Illustrated article, in which former teammate Carl Continue reading

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USC 75, UCLA 71: Where to now?

Here’s the Daily News game story (with a USC focus), my sidebar on UCLA’s overtime loss, as well as Jill Painter’s column.

Now, on to some takeaways from arguably the most embarrassing outing of the Bruins’ season — one that also cemented them as the most vexing team in the conference.

Defensive lapses: UCLA shouldn’t have the excuse of youth anymore, not with more than half the season already gone. The loss to Cal Poly could be chalked up to growing pains. These Bruins made strides during a 10-game winning streak, and truly tapped into their potential with a win at Arizona.

Wednesday night undid any of that progress.

Again, UCLA’s interior defense looked soft and welcoming Continue reading

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USC 75, UCLA 71 (OT)

There it goes. What briefly looked like UCLA’s biggest comeback win of the year turned into an embarrassing loss to USC, one that sucked out any momentum the Bruins built up over the past few weeks. The Trojans won 44-36 on the boards, but it was UCLA’s inability to take advantage of turnovers that perhaps sums up this game. USC coughed the ball up 17 times, but the Bruins got just 12 points of those opportunities.

They were also beat 24-7 in bench points, with the main difference being USC forward Aaron Fuller’s 15 points.

More to come after the press conference.

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UCLA vs. USC: What to Watch

USC (8-13, 3-5)
Tipoff: 7 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks, AM 570

At a glance: USC has looked competitive but not outstanding in four games under interim head coach Bob Cantu. The Trojans were decimated at Arizona, a team likely steaming after losing to UCLA, but forced overtime against ASU and fell by two points against Oregon.

USC is an unexceptional defensive team that utilizes its size and length to block shots. The Trojans are averaging 5.8 blocks per game in conference play, behind only Arizona State’s 6.4. Their offense, putrid through much of the winter, has ticked up lately: 65.3 points per game on the season ranks 11th in the conference, but exclude the nonconference schedule and that number moves up to 69.6 (fourth). In Pac-12 play, UCLA is only slightly ahead at 70.9.

On a roster not filled with shooters — only two players make more than 70.5 percent of their free throws — 6-foot-6 forward Eric Wise has been Continue reading

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Muhammad, Wear likely to play against USC

UCLA’s leading scorer Shabazz Muhammad fell ill with flu-like symptoms Monday night, keeping him out of practice Tuesday. Head coach Ben Howland said the freshman’s fever topped 101 degrees, but most of his teammates haven’t even considered the possibility of him sitting.

“He’s a competitor,” David Wear said. “We’re all pretty sure he’ll end up playing. Anytime you’re playing USC, anybody’s gonna want to — even if you’re feeling sick — anyone’s gonna want to tough it out.”

Howland didn’t want to commit to his return, but hinted that Muhammad would find a way to suit up after fighting off nausea and vomiting. Continue reading

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