Howland using bulletin-board material

When UCLA returned to the court following its stinging loss in the Pac-12 title game last week, it found something waiting for them.

After Las Vegas pegged the Bruins as one of two higher-seeded teams to lose in NCAA tournament’s round of 64, coach Ben Howland decided to post up predictions of Friday’s matchup against No. 11-seed Minnesota. Continue reading

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Obama picks Gophers over Bruins

President Barack Obama unveiled his March Madness bracket this morning with ESPN’s Andy Katz, and joined the crowd when it came to the UCLA-Minnesota first-round game.

“UCLA lost a key player (in Jordan Adams),” he said. “Minnesota’s been playing tough. I think Tubby Smith’s team’s gonna do pretty well.”

Obama only picked one national champion correctly (UNC, 2009) in his first term, and his 2012 bracket was in the 63.6th percentile of ESPN users. This year, he picked Indiana to beat fellow No. 1-seed Louisville in the title game, with No. 3 Florida and No. 2 Ohio State filling out the rest of his Final Four.

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Gavin Schilling announces Wednesday

Three-star forward Gavin Schilling is deciding between Minnesota, Villanova, Michigan State and UCLA, and will announce Wednesdy at 11:15 a.m. on Twitter. The 6-foot-9 recruit watched the Bruins’ win over Arizona in the Pac-12 semifinals, and his Findlay Prep teammate Allerik Freeman is already signed to UCLA.

UPDATE: Schilling said he will announce at 12:30 p.m. instead.

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UCLA earns a No. 6 seed in NCAAs

Updated with team reactions

UCLA secured a No. 6 seed on Selection Sunday, but the celebration was somewhat muted.

The Bruins were happy more or less happy with the number, though coach Ben Howland said he expected a four- or five-seed. They were fine with playing No. 11-seed Minnesota on Friday, a team they still need to study on film.

But the location? Those 1,300 miles to Austin, Texas, wasn’t what the team wanted — especially not as two other Pac-12 schools were slotted in California. Howland said last week that he was more concerned with the location than the seed, and stuck true to that sentiment after the bracket was released.

“Honestly? I’d rather be Cal right now, playing in San Jose,” he said. “I’d rather be a 12-seed right now, playing in San Jose. Absolutely. Especially for the fans.” Continue reading

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Short-handed UCLA falls short of Pac-12 tourney title

Without shooting guard Jordan Adams, UCLA couldn’t do enough to beat Oregon for the Pac-12 tournament championship. As Adams sat at the end of the bench with a broken right foot, the Bruins lost 78-69 and failed to put together one strong, late rally.

UCLA cut the Ducks’ to two points with 12 minutes left to go on a 3-pointer by Larry Drew II, but proceeded to give up a 6-0 run over the next 90 seconds. It went the rest of the way down between six and 12 points — save for a 19-second stretch that saw the deficit shrink to four.

Oregon won its first tournament title since 2007. No team has won both the regular-season and tournament championships since the Bruins did so in 2008.

– UCLA’s seed for the NCAA tournament will likely drop due to Adams’ absence. The NCAA selection committee often account for injuries in their decision, and the Bruins being without their second-leading scorer could weigh heavily. In 2000, top-ranked Cincinnati missed out on a No. 1 seed when Kenyon Martin broke his leg. In 2009, St. Mary’s missed the tournament despite 26 wins because point guard Patty Mills hadn’t shaken off rust after breaking his hand. Continue reading

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UCLA 66, Arizona 64: Notes and quotes

UCLA pulled out a big 66-64 victory against Arizona to advance to the Pac-12 title game, but the cost was a season-ending broken foot for Jordan Adams (story here). The freshman guard erupted for 18 second-half points, including 13 straight, as the Bruins beat the Wildcats for the third time this season.

Tomorrow’s 8 p.m. tipoff (ESPN) pits UCLA against Oregon — a tough matchup for the Bruins even with Adams.

More notes after the jump. Continue reading

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Bruins earn semifinals spot in comeback win

UCLA Arizona State with a scrappy comeback Thursday afternoon, earning an 80-75 rubber-match victory after being down 15 points in the second half.

Some extra notes from the Bruins’ first game in Las Vegas, one that earned them a semifinals matchup against Arizona tomorrow at 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network). Continue reading

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Carson: ‘I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder’

The Pac-12 tournament opened with Arizona State’s 89-88 overtime win over Stanford, one that sets up the Sun Devils as perhaps the toughest second-round matchup UCLA could have had.

The Bruins tip off against ASU at 12 p.m. Thursday after splitting the season series, and will have to contend with Co-Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson. The 5-foot-10 point guard dropped a career-high 34 points on the Cardinal, just one shy of the program record for freshmen. Senior forward Carrick Felix, an all-conference defender, is also a concern.

Some quotes from the Sun Devils after that win, touching a bit on the rubber match with UCLA. Continue reading

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Bruins treating Vegas as business trip

For two decades, the Big East has staged one of college basketball’s biggest events: a raucous celebration of the sport in its mecca. Could the Pac-12 one day compare?

UCLA coach Ben Howland was enthusiastic about his current conference’s decision to move its postseason tourney to Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, comparing its potential to that of the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden. He led Pitt to victory in that competition in 2003, shortly began coaching the the Bruins.

“People love to go to Vegas,” Howland said. “It’s gonna be happening. This ticket, in this league, three years from now, will be one of the most difficult tickets in the country to get. That’s what you have to have. Continue reading

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Howland ‘miffed, stunned’ at Adams’ award exclusion

Count Ben Howland among those who weren’t happy when the Pac-12 announced its conference awards yesterday.

“I was just really disappointed, miffed, stunned that Jordan Adams wasn’t on the all-freshmen team,” the UCLA coach said. “I couldn’t believe it. I felt hurt, sad, stunned, miffed.”

He’s not alone. The exclusion of UCLA’s freshman had many crying foul, including Arizona coach Sean Miller. The least touted member of the Bruins’ recruiting class quickly became the team’s most valuable player — especially while Co-Freshman of the Year Shabazz Muhammad missed three games and worked his way back into shape. Continue reading

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