UCLA runs past James Madison, 100-70

Just finished watching a replay of the game on the Pac-12 Network, since I missed much of the second half writing on deadline.

Speaking of writing, here’s your gamer and here’s a notebook on freshman Jordan Adams’ hot start with a note on commit Zach Lavine.

I have a few observations having covered the last two, very different games:

–Jordan Adams has far outperformed expectations. As the notebook states, Adams was the afterthought of this recruiting class but in Shabazz Muhammad’s absence, he’s been able to shine. He’s now the first UCLA freshman to score 20 points or more in each of his first three games and the first player to do it since Arron Afflalo in 2007. A lot of people saw Adams as just a shooter, which he is, but his physicality and ability to get to the rim have been more impressive.

–Good things happen when Kyle Anderson touches the ball. As Don MacLean noted on the broadcast, Anderson sees things on the court that not many others see. Certainly not anyone in a UCLA uniform in recent years. He pulled down nine rebounds in the first half alone and finished with 12. He may have only scored two points but he spun an entry pass to Tony Parker in the second half, after which I had to pick my jaw up from the floor. His reverse layup in the first half was pretty, too. He didn’t look at all bothered by the wrist injury.

–Because all three freshmen are contributing, UCLA is deep. There’s more depth on this team than any that I’ve been around since I got here in 2009. If Shabazz is eligible and Tyler Lamb is healthy, there are 10 guys that can score. All of a sudden, players that were relied on in recent years like Joshua Smith are in danger of becoming role players with guys like Tony Parker (12 points in 18 minutes last night) pushing him. The Bruins got 52 points (25 for Adams and 27 for Powell) from the wing position alone last night.

–James Madison is not a good basketball team. In fact, the Dukes are one of the worst I’ve seen. Howland mentioned that one of their best players was held out for unknown reasons and it was their first game of the season but this stage was far too big for them. UCLA was never losing that game.

Jack and I are hitting the mean streets of Brookly next week (I’ll be there for the Daily Bruin). Any restaurant suggestions are welcome.

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Anderson likely to play tonight v. James Madison

*UPDATE: UCLA confirms Lamb will not play tonight.*

Sam Strong here again, providing you with all the UCLA v. James Madison coverage you ever dreamed of. A reminder to follow me on Twitter if you want more timely updates.

Freshman Kyle Anderson, who sustained a bone contusion in his right wrist in the win over UC Irvine on Tuesday, looks likely to play. He was warming up and shooting with tape on his wrist but didn’t appear hampered by it in the least.

Junior guard Tyler Lamb, who is recovering from knee surgery, was not warming up with the team. Looks like he’ll be out tonight.

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UCLA sneaks past UC Irvine in overtime, 80-79

UCLA leaned heavily on freshman Jordan Adams and was very lucky to remain undefeated with a 80-79 win over UC Irvine on Tuesday night.

Here’s the game story and here’s a notebook on Larry Drew II getting the majority of the point guard minutes.

UCLA may have won but the game had a similar feel to previous early-season, head-scratching losses like Loyola Marymount (2011), Middle Tennessee State (2011) and Cal State Fullerton (2009).

The biggest takeaway from the game, outside of the obvious (Jordan Adams is a special player, David Wear has never heard of James Madison, Josh Smith has regressed and despite what Ben Howland says, UCLA should not have allowed a team like Irvine to hang around past the first half), is that the Bruins lack an identity right now.

Are they a fast-break team like they claim to be (four fast-break points on Tuesday)? Are they a half-court team? Are they big (out-rebounded 55-44 by Irvine? Are they guard-oriented? The Anteaters were successful because they had a clear gameplan and stuck to it by playing sound, team ball.

UCLA’s chance at redemption comes Thursday night against James Madison of the Colonial Athletic Association, which has yet to play a regular-season game and went 13-20 last season.

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UPDATED: Kyle Anderson injures right hand

*UPDATE: Howland said Anderson will receive an x-ray tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. If the x-ray is negative, he’ll get an MRI at noon.

Expecting an update tomorrow afternoon*

Former LANG intern Sam Strong here, helping Jack out with hoops during ‘SC week.

Freshman Kyle Anderson briefly left the first half of Tuesday’s game with a right wrist injury. Anderson dove into a group of photographers for a loose ball and quickly made his way off the floor holding his wrist and wincing in pain.

After passing some dribbling and shooting tests on the sideline with a group of trainers, Anderson returned to action but was still obviously bothered by the injury.

Something to keep an eye on for the rest of the game/week.

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UCLA keeps rolling, buries Stony Brook, 9-1

OMAHA, Neb. — Coming into Friday’s opening game of the College World Series, TD Ameritrade Park was buzzing about Stony Brook. The Seawolves are in Omaha for the first time and are just the second ever No. 4 regional seed to reach the Series.

Flecks of UCLA-blue dotted a sea of Stony-Brook-red in the stands. As a result of their opening opponent and consistent style of play, the Bruins are one of the least-talked-about No. 2 seeds the Series has seen in a while. After the first inning of an eventual 9-1 win for the Bruins, UCLA was the talk of Omaha.

“We kind of calmed things down, especially here in Omaha with the crowd,” junior center fielder Beau Amaral said. “We knew everybody was going to be rooting for (Stony Brook) and being able to take the crowd out of it early is a pretty big deal.

UCLA sophomore right-hander and ace of staff Adam Plutko zapped most of the energy out of the pro Stony Brook crowd in the top of the first by setting the Seawolves down in order, striking out two. UCLA’s offense finished the job in the bottom half by plating five runs on five hits against Stony Brook’s solid right-hander Tyler Johnson (Crespi).

Amaral led things off with a single up the middle, junior catcher Tyler Heineman gutted out an infield single, junior left fielder Cody Keefer walked, junior right fielder Jeff Gelalich singled to right, junior first baseman Trevor Brown singled up the middle and sophomore shortstop Pat Valaika laid down an RBI sacrifice bunt. Before Johnson had recorded two outs, he found himself in a 5-0 hole.

“That’s a very good lineup,” said Johnson who suffered just his second loss of the season. “They have a lot of left-handed guys too, A lot of good hitters. They’re here for a reason. I didn’t do a good job of throwing strikes.”

Johnson’s words could have been plucked from any other losing pitcher’s press conference who has faced UCLA in the playoffs. The No. 2 Bruins remain undefeated in the postseason and all of their wins have been similar.

It’s almost as if UCLA has found a formula for how to wear teams down: Getting at least solid innings from its starting pitcher, stringing timely, seeing-eye hits together and turning it over to the bullpen to close things out. Friday was no different as Plutko scattered five hits over seven innings, seven of UCLA’s position players had at least one hit and right-handed freshman reliever David Berg shut things down in the last two innings by not allowing a hit in seven batters faced.

“It was a typical Bruin win, really,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “Nothing fancy. No big home runs or anything like that. It was just more plate discipline. … We walked nine times, had nine hits, we played catch and we threw strikes. When you do those things, usually good things happen.”

It’s that grinding style of baseball that helped UCLA fly under the radar early in Omaha. Now, they have everyone’s attention but the formula will remain the same.

“Regardless of who we play, this group has been ready to play when the first pitch goes,” Savage said. “They did a great job. This was a great way to start the tournament.”

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