— Jordan Adams is hitting on all cylinders heading down the late stretch of the season. The sophomore guard lit up the Huskies for a career-high 31 points in UCLA’s 91-82 win — a total that could have easily been higher if not for a second-half bout with cramps.
Adams scored 10 of UCLA’s first 14 points to set the pace early, and established the offense by earning trips to the line. He also exited a good portion of the second half and didn’t score in the final eight minutes, but his last six points came when the Bruins only led by one point.
UCLA’s most natural scorer hitting his stride in March obviously bodes well for a team that’s angling for a top-five tournament seed. His free throw rate has dropped to 20th in the conference compared to 13th last season, but he his nine free throw attempts were his highest since Dec. 7. When he can draw contact in the lane, it opens up the rest of the Bruins’ offense.
That Adams broke his foot in Las Vegas last season likely also adds an extra dose of personal motivation for him.
— Zach LaVine had 14 points in his homecoming, and shut the door on the Huskies by scoring 11 of those in the final five minutes of the game.
The freshman is finding his comfort zone again after slumping through most of the last six weeks or so. He even jawed back a bit at Washington fans who had taunted him all game long, earning a reprimand from head coach Steve Alford. A stint handling the ball during #SuspensionFest against Oregon seems to have tipped his confidence back up, and the resurgence of the Bruins bench.
— UCLA will need all the offense it can get for the rest of the season. It shot itself back into the game after halftime, but was mediocre on defense through the first half.
The Bruins are who they are at this point: a team that is susceptible to hot outside shooting as well as athletic big men. Washington shot 58.8 percent before the break, and finished with 38 points in the paint. Alford said recently that he doesn’t mind allowing as many as 30 or 35 3-pointers per game as long as they’re not “easy” attempts, and the Huskies accordingly made 9-of-19.
— Tony Parker fouled out for the fifth time this season, exiting the game with nearly four minutes left. His most egregious sequence came at around the 12-minute mark of the second half.
The 6-foot-9 forward attempted to close out on UW’s Darin Johnson 3-pointer, but got to the right corner late to create a four-point opportunity. After Johnson missed the free throw, Desmond Simmons grabbed the rebound and drew another foul on Parker.
UCLA’s lone true big man had stayed out of trouble with the refs recently, but Thursday was not one of his most sparkling efforts. That said, this season has been a clear sign of steady — though not transformative — progress for the sophomore. Parker is more promising on offense, where he at least as a steady turnaround baseline jumper, than defense. He’s not likely to transform into a consistent post presence for the Bruins this season, but by next year, he should at least be a 10-and-6 guy.