Kyle Anderson named Pac-12 Player of the Week

Point guard Kyle Anderson was named Pac-12 Player of the Week, becoming the first UCLA player to earn the honor this season.

The sophomore averaged 15.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the Bruins’ wins over Stanford and Cal. He now has 11 double-doubles this season, including a triple-double against Morehead State in November.

Despite the recognition of Anderson, UCLA remained unranked in the latest Associated Poll. The team received 39 points in voting, which would place it 28th in the country if rankings extended past the top 25.

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Notes: Steve Alford talks Norman Powell’s breakout

Junior guard Norman Powell has steadily improved every part of his game since he arrived at UCLA, but his most dramatic jump this season has come on offense. Still the team’s best man-to-man defender, the San Diego native has bumped his 2-point shooting to 66.4 percent, up from 57.8 last season and 40.5 the year before that.

In conference games, the Bruins rank seventh inside the arc at 48.3 percent, a middling performance that stems at least in part from the roster’s dearth of dominant big men.

Arizona, first in the category, has three starters making more than 56 percent of their 2-point shots. The only UCLA player that clears that mark besides Powell is Tony Parker at 59.8 percent. David Wear and Travis Wear average 52.8 and 46.9 percent, respectively.

Powell scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting in Sunday’s 76-64 win against Cal, an unspectacular but crucial contribution across 30 minutes — the most he has played against a conference opponent.

Head coach Steve Alford talked about Powell’s “breakout year” after the win, pointing out his propensity for driving down the lane and drawing fouls.

That becomes more important in the context of the team as a whole. UCLA’s 37.7 percent free-throw rate ranks just 10th in the conference, and 245th in the country. Powell’s 36.8 percent isn’t exactly hauling that number up, but besides Kyle Anderson (50.0) and Jordan Adams (49.4), he is the best option for generating trips to the line. Continue reading

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UCLA beats Cal, moves into second-place Pac-12 tie

UCLA is now tied for second place in the Pac-12, after a 76-64 win over Cal that saw one big man disappear and another rise.

Three days after scoring a career-high 22 points against Stanford, sophomore Tony Parker was a non-factor early on, picking up two fouls in 85 seconds and sitting most of the first half. He picked up his fourth foul with 11:58 left in the second half, and headed to the bench again.

He finished the game with a rebound, an assist and a missed shot.

His team hardly missed him. It was David Wear who starred, shaking off an illness earlier this week to score a career-high 18 points. He hit 6-of-10 from the field, including two 3-pointers, as well as four free throws. He added seven rebounds. Continue reading

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Notes and quotes: A look at Tony Parker’s career game

Tony Parker was the talk of last night, as his career-high 22 points helped power UCLA to a 91-74 rout of Stanford. The win gives the Bruins a chance to tie for second in the Pac-12 on Sunday, but marked yet another tantalizing effort in the big man’s uneven career.

In arguably his best college game yet, the 6-foot-9 sophomore created many of his own chances, grabbing five of his seven rebounds on the offensive end. It echoed his showing against Arizona earlier this month, in which he snatched five of eight there.

I’m still not convinced Parker can ever produce a 20-and-7 night on even a semi-regular basis, but his effort on the offensive glass has improved. A freshman season spent mostly on the bench saw him grab 6.5 percent of available offensive rebounds. This year, that mark is up to 13.6 percent. Among the conference’s significant contributors (minimum 40 percent of minutes played), that puts him second-best behind Oregon’s Elgin Cook.

“After the Utah game, I watched a lot of clips of Kevin Love and Zach Randolph, who are my favorite players, and I noticed that they stayed around the arc and were active,” said Parker, whose seven free throw attempts were also a career high. “So tonight, I decided to stay around the arc and I kept moving.”

The performance was so surprising that after the postgame press conference, teammate Jordan Adams looked at the box score and snickered at Parker: “You had 22?”

Before his joke about Parker’s clothes, head coach Steve Alford did have a, erm, interesting response when asked how he motivates players: “That’s always on players. The players play. We obviously hope.” Continue reading

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Tony Parker scores career high against Stanford. Key? Anger.

UCLA’s 91-74 win over Stanford saw forward Tony Parker pour in a career-high 22 points — far beyond the 5.6 he had averaged against five previous Pac-12 opponents.

The key might have been a well-placed barb.

“You’ve got to get Tony mad,” said head coach Steve Alford. “It’s kind of hard to make him mad because everybody he sees, he’s friends with. It’s difficult to make him mad. Continue reading

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