UCLA forward Kevon Looney named Pac-12 Player of the Week

After the best weekend of his UCLA career, true freshman Kevon Looney earned his first Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.

The rangy 6-foot-9 forward helped the Bruins break their five-loss streak with a dominant effort in Thursday’s double-overtime win over Stanford. In the 86-81 victory, Looney poured in an absurd line: 27 points, 19 rebounds, three assists and a block. He was the first UCLA player to have that many points and rebounds in a game since Ed O’Bannon in 1994.

His follow-up effort against Cal on Sunday wasn’t bad either. Looney led UCLA with 15 points in the 73-54 win, and also chipped in seven boards, two assists and two steals.

Looney is the second freshman to earn the weekly honor, after Arizona’s Stanley Johnson and USC’s Elijah Stewart. Senior guard Norman Powell is the only other Bruin to win this season, being tapped for the award on Nov. 24.

While it was Powell who looked like UCLA’s most complete player early on, Looney’s offensive emergence could be what saves the team’s disappointing encore under head coach Steve Alford. Against Stanford and Cal, the coaching staff freed Looney to take the ball up the court after defensive rebounds — showing off his ability to create transition buckets on his own.

Looney also found his touch from long range against the Bay Area schools. He went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in the two wins, a sharp turnaround from the 4-of-19 rate he had shot through his first 15 games. If the trend holds, Looney will force defenses to account for his outside jumper — creating space for both himself and his teammates to slash into the paint.

That would be a welcome change for UCLA, which is making just 44.5 percent of its 2-point shots. That number ranks last in the Pac-12, and 273rd nationally.