At a glance: UCLA at No. 7 Arizona

UCLA (16-11, 8-6) at No. 7 Arizona (23-3, 11-2)
Saturday, Feb. 21, 6 p.m. PT, McKale Center
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Shannon Spake)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

Scouting report: Like it did a year ago, Arizona looks like the Pac-12′s best chance at the Final Four. The difference is that this edition of the Wildcats is even more balanced than the one that fell to Wisconsin in overtime of the Elite Eight — one that, along the way, went undefeated at home and spent eight straight weeks at No. 1.

After losing Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the NBA draft, UofA reloaded with five-star wing Stanley Johnson. The Mater Dei product has lived up to every bit of the hype, leading the team in scoring (14.5) and rebounds (6.7) and ranking second in assists (1.96) and steals (1.5). He also shoots an absurd 50.5 percent on 2-point jumpers, making 55 of 109; none of the Bruins’ starters hit more than 38.5 percent. The likely top-10 pick will be a nightmare matchup for UCLA, and is also the only person keeping UCLA’s Kevon Looney from winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

The Wildcats are flat out more talented than the Bruins. They have a veteran point guard in T.J. McConnell, a forward who can stretch the floor in Brandon Ashley, an athletic defender in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and a 7-foot center in Kaleb Tarczewski. Continue reading

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UCLA baseball to play USC in Dodgertown Classic

UCLA beat USC, 6-1, at the Dodgertown Classic at Dodger Stadium in front of more than 14,000 fans on Sunday, February 28, 2010. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA beat USC, 6-1, at the Dodgertown Classic at Dodger Stadium in front of more than 14,000 fans on Sunday, February 28, 2010. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Tickets have gone on sale for the return of the Dodgertown Classic, which will feature UCLA vs. USC and Vanderbilt vs. TCU on Sunday, March 8.

The event is going back to Chavez Ravine after a two-year break, though it is billed simply as the “Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic” this year rather than by its old name. The Bruins and Trojans are scheduled to play at 3:30 p.m., following an 11:45 a.m. first pitch between the defending NCAA champion Commodores and the Horned Frogs. The UCLA-USC game will also be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.

“Our program is very excited to get the opportunity to play at Dodger Stadium,” UCLA coach John Savage said in a statement. “We thank the Dodgers organization for hosting a great day of college baseball and we are looking forward to having our fans come out and support the Bruins.” Continue reading

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Hundley, Odighizuwa stand out with NFL combine measurements

UCLA’s pro prospects have all landed in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. Although most of the biggest drills are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday — including quarterback workouts tomorrow — most of the former Bruins have been measured by now.

Here’s a quick look.

QB Brett Hundley — 6’3″, 32 1/8″ arms, 226 pounds, 10 1/2″ hands
Hundley’s physicals were never really questioned in terms of his draft profile, but he didn’t hurt himself by measuring out with the biggest hands of any quarterback.

LB Eric Kendricks — 6’0″, 232 pounds, 31″ arms, 9 5/8″ hands
The reigning Butkus Award winner has never blown anyone with his physical gifts, and his measurements at the combine didn’t pop out in any way. Of note: He’s very physically similar to USC’s Hayes Pullard, who has the same height and hand size but is eight pounds heavier and slightly longer (31 1/4″ arms).

DT Ellis McCarthy — 6’5″, 338 pounds, 34 1/8″ arms, 9 7/8″ hands
McCarthy was heavier than any other defensive lineman except Washington’s Danny Shelton, who edged him by a pound. The 6-foot-2 Shelton is projected as a first-round pick.

DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa — 6’3″, 267 pounds, 33 3/4″ arms, 11″ hands
His hands actually measured an eighth of an inch shorter than they did at the Senior Bowl last month, but that still ties him for first among defensive linemen with Indiana’s Bobby Richardson and Iowa’s Carl Davis.

Anthony Jefferson will be measured along with other defensive backs on Saturday.

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How would Tom Bradley fit as UCLA’s defensive coordinator?

After two weeks, UCLA appears to be close to finding a new defensive coordinator.

Former longtime Penn State assistant Tom Bradley, who was named AP Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2005, is close to filling that role for the Bruins. Once finalized, he will become UCLA’s third defensive coordinator in as many years, following Jeff Ulbrich and Lou Spanos — who left to coach linebackers for the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans, respectively.

Bradley’s status as a leading finalist was first reported by Bruin Report Online last night, and confirmed again by FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman this morning.

The Bruins had actually “sniffed around” Bradley a year ago, according to ESPN, but he opted to spend a season as West Virginia’s associate head coach. He also helped coach defensive linemen.

Here’s a closer look at the veteran college assistant.

Defensive credentials

Bradley’s resume is about as impressive as any UCLA could have hoped for in a candidate. He was one of the key architects in making Penn State into “Linebacker U” — a title that the Bruins started tossing around recently. In 2002, his third season as defensive coordinator, Bradley turned the Nittany Lions into the No. 11 defense in college football. From 2004 to 2009, they never fell out of the top 10. Continue reading

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UCLA gets beaten in the paint, on the boards in loss at Arizona State

UCLA looked like it had a chance at Arizona State, Isaac Hamilton pulling up on the right wing for what could have been a game-winning, buzzer 3-pointer. But even that was likely a mirage — just another ill-conceived play in a 68-66 loss, one that delivered a gut punch to the Bruins’ NCAA Tournament hopes.

Hamilton’s shot wasn’t reviewed, since all it drew was back iron and the sighs of UCLA fans hopeful for a late-season surge. On the replay, however, the sophomore’s fingertips looked like they were still on the ball as the backboard lit up red. With 6.8 seconds left, UCLA likely hadn’t created a viable last shot.

The Bruin offense had looked disjointed for much of the second period, missing 11 of its first 14 shots after the break to lose what had been a 36-32 halftime lead.

Norman Powell led the team with 16 points, but didn’t score a second-half point until the final 92 seconds. Big man Tony Parker was a non-factor, fouling out with 9:42 left on the game clock; he finished with just two points and one rebound, his worst showing of the year.

But what really sank the Bruins was lackluster rebounding and indifferent defense. Arizona State dominated them on the boards, 39-27, and sank an array of shots at close range. The Sun Devils shot 54.5 percent on 2-point attempts, and scored 36 points in the paint — 14 more than UCLA. Continue reading

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At a glance: UCLA at Arizona State

UCLA (16-10, 8-5) at Arizona State (13-12, 5-7)
Wednesday, Feb. 18, 6 p.m. PT, Wells Fargo Arena
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Bill Walton)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

Scouting report: ESPN College GameDay is heading to Tucson for No. 7 Arizona’s Saturday game against UCLA, but the Bruins’ tourney bubble status should keep them from overlooking Arizona State tonight. Steve Alford and company simply can’t afford to lose more than one of its final five games.

The Sun Devils have not been a particularly good team, but they are at least average in most areas and can do enough to upset more talented teams (ex: an 81-78 upset of the Wildcats on Feb. 7). However, despite its “Curtain of Distraction,” ASU has also been unable to string together two straight home wins since December, when it held off Harvard and Detroit. The team is coming off a 10-point win over Washington last Sunday.

In its ninth season under Herb Sendek, Arizona State has been very, very good at one thing: defensive rebounding. The roster doesn’t have much size outside of 6-foot-10 big man Eric Jacobsen, but manages to clean its own glass with a good amount of support from guards and wings. At the top of that list is junior Gerry Blakes, a JUCO transfer who is not only averaging 20.8 points in his last three games, but also leads the team with in defensive rebounding percentage (19.1). Continue reading

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Mike Mayock: Brett Hundley might not improve stock at NFL Combine

Towards the end of his final season at UCLA, quarterback Brett Hundley often took questions about 1) his college legacy, and 2) what he thought about his NFL draft stock. For the most part, the three-year starter played it cool — stressing that his body of work would stand out over anything else.

Heading into this week’s NFL Combine, draft guru Mike Mayock sort of echoed those thoughts.

“I don’t think he can change what the negatives are about him by throwing 20 passes in shorts,” said the longtime NFL Network analyst. “Having said that, I think he should (participate in full). There’s people that think he ducked the Senior Bowl, even though there was some medical that says it was okay for him not to be there obviously.

“My perspective is he should show up and rip it. He just ought to let it go. The things that are hurting him in the evaluation process are anticipation, pocket awareness, things like that that you can’t really show at the combine.”

On-field workouts for quarterbacks are scheduled for Saturday, along with those of running backs and wide receivers. Hundley remains in the second-tier of what is widely regarded as a thin quarterback class, behind potential top picks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Continue reading

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Zach LaVine wins NBA Slam Dunk Contest, because of course he did

In case anyone somehow forgot, Zach LaVine is still very, very good at dunking.

UCLA’s latest one-and-done product wasn’t a major part of the Bruins’ Sweet 16 run last year, but there was a reason he went from the Pauley Pavilion bench to NBA lottery pick. The 19-year-old is undergoing his expected growing pains (7.6 points, 3.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds) with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but if there was any competition he was meant for, it was the Slam Dunk Contest.

He won, and it wasn’t close. LaVine opened the Saturday night event with a pair of perfect 50 dunks, then creamed Victor Oladipo with scores of 45 and 49 to the latter’s 31 and 44.

You can check out other dunk highlights and scores at Yahoo! Sports, including the Space Jam intro to LaVine’s first dunk.

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Photos: UCLA ties for third in Pac-12 after beating Oregon

Photos from UCLA’s 72-63 win over Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 14, including a halftime ceremony to honor the 1995 championship team. (Michael Owen Baker/Daily News)

– The game story on UCLA’s 72-63 win over Oregon at Pauley Pavilion, one that featured a highlight-reel day from Norman Powell.
Mark Whicker’s column on how Tony Parker’s presence has helped keep the Bruins’ NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

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