UCLA (22-7, 12-4) at Washington State (11-18, 2-14)
Tipoff: 6:30 p.m., Beasley Coliseum
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/AM 570
At a glance: A loss in Pullman would be inexcusable for a conference contender. Washington State hasn’t beaten UCLA in Pullman since February 1993, seven months before any of the Bruins’ four freshmen were born.
WSU has lost nine straight games, and 11 of its past 12. No other team in the conference has lost more than five in a row all season. The Cougars aren’t trending up either. Since one-point losses at home to both Oregon and Oregon State, they’ve lost their last three by an average of 11 points — allowing opponents to shoot 52.9 percent from the field over that stretch. Most comically, they’ve had 14.3 percent of their shots blocked, the worst mark in the country. Continue reading
Ben Howland didn’t see what the fuss was all about.
The UCLA coach had presumed that Shabazz Muhammad’s entry into the NBA Draft was practically common knowledge. So when the media asked if the Bruins’ star freshman had played his final game at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, Howland said yes.
On Monday, he clarified that he hadn’t received the information from Muhammad and apologized for speaking out of turn — while suggesting that a player of that caliber would still be better off going pro.
“I’m sometimes too honest,” Howland said. “It would have been better to answer that question differently the other day. I’ve never discussed it with Shabazz. It’s kind of obvious when a kid’s a lottery pick that they’re going to the NBA in this day and age. … Continue reading
UCLA earned itself a solid 74-69 victory against Arizona Saturday night, a convincing win that keeps the Bruins controlling a share of the Pac-12 lead (game story here). The Bruins also clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament, and will finish no lower than a third seed. Look for them to finally be ranked again for the first time since January.
Some notes: Continue reading
Ever since his hype as the nation’s top recruit, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad has been almost universally regarded as a one-and-done — bound for the NBA Draft after his spending a season showing off his wares in college.
After the Bruins beat Arizona 74-69 in their last home game of the season, coach Ben Howland said he expected that to still hold true.
“I’m very much a realist now,” Howland said. “I knew going into this that it was a one-year deal. And it should be. He’s a lottery pick. He’s a top-five pick. When you have that going for you, it is absolutely the right thing for him. That was his last game at Pauley Pavilion, no doubt about it. Continue reading
UCLA controlled the entire game, never trailing after three minutes in a 74-69 win that keeps the team in control of its own destiny. Arizona closed to within three points in the final minute, but a clutch rebound by freshman Shabazz Muhammad all but sealed the victory. Muhammad went to the line and sank two free throws to cap the final score, serenaded by “One more year!” cheers as he did.
Muhammad scored a game-high 18 after being limited by foul trouble early, followed closely behind by Kyle Anderson’s 17. Four Bruins scored in double figures.
This is UCLA’s first season sweep over Arizona since 2008. The attendance of 13,727 is a stadium record.
UPDATE: Here’s the game story, as well as Jill Painter’s column on Shabazz Muhammad.
UCLA (21-7, 11-4) vs. No. 11 Arizona (23-5, 11-5)
Tipoff: 6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV/Radio: ESPN/AM 570
At a glance: Both Arizona and UCLA need a win to boost their chances at a Pac-12 Championship. Oregon currently sits in first place at 12-4, and has road games left against Colorado and Utah. The Ducks, who now have point guard Dominic Artis again, likely won’t drop both.
As it stands, the Bruins can still claim a share of the conference title as long as they win out. Oregon’s head-to-head tiebreaker will give them the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament assuming UCLA finishes with the same record. Continue reading
Ben Howland has missed the NCAA tournament twice in three years, something that has only happened to UCLA two other times since 1960. Once celebrated as one of the top coaches in the country, Howland’s critics have grown loud this season — the most prominent being Bill Walton.
Still, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said the 10th-year coach deserves to stay, dismissing the speculation around Howland’s job as “unreasonableness.”
From a Q&A with the Daily Bruin:
I think it’s stupid. Absolutely stupid. If the people here, who love UCLA, want to destabilize a really good situation, they’re doing a good job. Ben Howland’s gone to three Final Fours. The rest of the Pac-12 coaches combined have gone to one. One. ‘Oh, I don’t like his style.’ Well, they’re leading the league in scoring. So if you don’t like his style, you don’t like anybody in the league.
There’s been a high standard set here, and there’s some unreasonableness that goes along with that. Continue reading
If you weren’t among those camping out for ESPN College GameDay early this morning, you missed out on Ben Howland and Shabazz Muhammad trying their hand at beer pong.
From the Daily Bruin live blog:
Adidas’ new Zubaz-inspired uniforms may be a sartorial abomination, but at least they won’t be around for too long. UCLA head coach Ben Howland said the new sleeved jerseys and accompanying shorts won’t be worn in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins will wear them at least once in the Pac-12 tournament.
Howland was surprised that even the Wall Street Journal chimed in, but said the players loved them: “They’re so excited to wear those. They’re so happy. They can’t wait.” He might be overblowing the reaction; walk-on Nick Kazemi, for one, is still undecided.
UCLA’s game against Arizona on Saturday officially sold out this morning, but you can still make the 6 p.m. tipoff if you turn to either Bruin TicketExchange (starting at $115 as of this writing) or Stubhub ($60).
Point guard Larry Drew II will receive a “Senior Night” ceremony prior to tipoff.
ESPN College Gameday also makes its second-ever appearance at Pauley Pavilion after visiting for the Bruins’ 82-60 win over the Wildcats in 2008. Doors open at 5 a.m. and admission is free.