No. 4 UCLA led Stanford wire-to-wire in Sunday’s 89-75 victory at Pauley Pavilion
Stanford seems an appropriate measuring stick for the UCLA basketball team, considering the two programs finished next to each other in the Pac-12 standings last season.
The Cardinal were one of UCLA’s five consecutive losses to end last season, placing Stanford ninth in the conference and UCLA 10th with its worst ever Pac-12 record. Things haven’t much changed for Stanford (8-8, 0-4 Pac-12), but they’re night-and-day different for UCLA (16-1, 3-1).
With an 89-75 win over the Cardinal Sunday night, the Bruins have surpassed their win total from last season – with at least 16 games to play this season.
“We’ve come a long way since last year,” said Bryce Alford. “It’s been a blast. I’ve been saying it all year.”
There is enough evidence at this point. Rebounding is a major weakness for a UCLA basketball team that doesn’t have many.
To that point, the Bruins are undoubtedly not disappointed that Stanford’s leading rebounder, Reid Travis, is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury and will miss tonight’s game at Pauley Pavilion,
UCLA has lost the rebounding battle in three of its last six games and is particularly struggling on the offensive boards, where it has bested its opponent in just two of the last seven games. To put it in perspective, the Bruins are tied for 272nd in the nation in offensive rebounding.
The rebounding deficiencies are a reflection of UCLA’s defensive weaknesses that require help defenders to spend more time rotating when a teammate is beaten off the dribble than boxing out their own man. Cal outrebounded UCLA by 11 in the second half of Thursday’s game, during which it closed to within five points after trailing by as many as 22. Cal sophomore Ivan Rabb collected 20 rebounds by himself.
It’s one thing when UCLA is outrebounded by Oregon or Cal, but UC Santa Barbara grabbed 24 offensive rebounds to UCLA’s eight in the Bruins’ victory on Dec. 14. It will be interesting to see if UCLA can make some adjustments to combat this growing deficiency tonight against a Stanford team struggling in every facet of the game.
Read the preview for tonight’s game versus Stanford here.
From left to right, SSG Tiki Sanchez, SSG Gil Febre, CAP Tad Kitaguchi and SSG Jonathan Crespo present Jaelan Phillips with his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey (Photo: Army All-American Bowl)
Even among the top high-school talent in the country, UCLA commit Jaelan Phillips stood out in a big way.
The five-star defensive end was a dominant force for the West Team in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday with a game-high five tackles. He had 0.5 sacks and one quarterback hurry as his West Team lost 21-17. NBC announcers praised Phillips’ quick, strong hands and full arsenal of moves, calling the Redlands East Valley graduate “the most impressive prospect of the week” with the “look of a future pro.”
Phillips was named the U.S. Army Defensive Player of the Year on Friday before the game.
Fellow UCLA commit offensive lineman Kanan Ray also participated in the game for the West, while the nation’s top defensive back Darnay Holmes announced his pledge to UCLA on national television, spurning USC, Nebraska and Ohio State.
With less than a month left until National Signing Day, UCLA picked up two big commits Friday in four-star defensive tackle Martin Andrus and four-star linebacker Rahyme Johnson.
The pair of L.A. natives announced their commitments in a joint video with cameos from fellow UCLA commits Jaelan Phillips and Jaylan Shaw.
Andrus, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound defensive tackle from Los Angeles High, is a four-star recruit according to Scout.com and a three-star according to Rivals and 247 Sports. He was also considering Oregon, USC and Nebraska, among others.
This is Johnson’s second commitment to UCLA as he pledged to the Bruins on July 24, 2015 before withdrawing on May 13, 2016. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound outside linebacker from Salesian was also considering Oregon, Oregon State, Nebraska and Notre Dame. He told Scout.com that UCLA linebackers coach Scott White was relentless in his recruiting even after the decommitment and that helped reel Johnson back in. Continue reading →