UCLA receiver Devin Lucien transfers to Arizona State

Receiver Devin Lucien, who left UCLA right before spring camp, has decided to transfer to Arizona State.

On track to graduate this summer, Lucien will be able to play immediately. Once a four-star recruit in 2011, the former Crespi Carmelite star never became a consistent player in Westwood.

Despite teasing crowds with his athleticism through multiple offseasons, Lucien struggled to break out into a primary roll through three seasons at UCLA. He left Los Angeles totaling 752 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but caught for fewer yards in 2014 (225) than he did the season prior (339).

After UCLA’s Alamo Bowl win over Kansas State in January, he expressed discontent about his role on the team.

The Bruins host the Sun Devils on Oct. 3.

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UCLA to start Pac-12 Tournament against Arizona State or USC

Thomas Welsh (40) celebrates with Norman Powell (4) and Bryce Alford as UCLA defeated USC 85-74 on March 4, 2015.  The teams could face each other again in Las Vegas. (John McCoy/Staff)

Thomas Welsh (40) celebrates with Norman Powell (4) and Bryce Alford as UCLA defeated USC 85-74 on March 4, 2015. The teams could face each other again in Las Vegas. (John McCoy/Staff)

UCLA finished its regular season on Wednesday with a win over USC, leaving the Bruins with nearly eight days until their first game in the Pac-12 Tournament.

They now know who they’ll likely face next Thursday at 2:40 p.m. Arizona State clinched the No. 5 seed today when it beat Cal and Stanford lost to Arizona. That matches the Sun Devils up against the 12th-seeded Trojans on Wednesday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena; the winner will advance to face No. 4-seeded UCLA.

USC only has five conference wins in two seasons under Andy Enfield, none of which have come against their crosstown rival. ASU beat the Bruins in their only meeting this year, taking a 68-66 decision in Tempe.

If UCLA wins that Thursday game, it will almost certainly draw No. 1 seed Arizona in the semifinals — assuming that the Wildcats dispatch either Cal or Washington State. An upset by the Bruins to reach the Pac-12 title game would move the team off the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Here’s the full Pac-12 Tournament schedule: Continue reading

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How is the 2015 Pac-12 Tournament field shaping up?

p12 tourney

The Pac-12 Tournament is a little more than a week away, so it’s a good time to look at how the bracket will shake out heading into the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Below are the current conference standings, along with each team’s outlook and remaining schedule (plus kenpom.com win probabilities). The tie-breaking rules are here, if anyone wants to figure out all the possible scenarios in the Pac-12’s weird, muddled middle.

1. Arizona (14-2) — 3/5 vs. Cal (97%), 3/7 vs. Stanford (92%)
Arizona has already clinched the top seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

2. Utah (12-4) — 3/5 at Washington State (91%), 3/7 at Washington (86%)
Utah’s chance at a regular-season title slipped away when it lost to the Wildcats last Saturday. The Utes remain a strong bet to finish second barring an unthinkable collapse on its final road trip.

3. Oregon (12-5) — 3/4 at Oregon State (55%)
The Ducks have clinched at least third, and still have a chance to steal the No. 2-seed away from Utah. If they finish with the same record, Oregon holds the head-to-head tiebreaker due to its 69-58 upset of the Utes on Feb. 22.

4. UCLA (10-7) — 3/4 vs. USC (87%)
Even if the Bruins somehow implode in their regular-season finale, they will likely remain in fourth place due to their head-to-head tiebreaker against Stanford.

5. Stanford (9-7) — 3/5 at ASU (43%), 3/7 at Arizona (8%)
Even if Stanford wins out, it wouldn’t move up in the standings unless UCLA also loses to USC. If the Cardinal split their Arizona trip, they will stand alone in fifth. If they lose out, a few tiebreaker scenarios would emerge. 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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