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 →
Two days after UCLA won an outright Pac-12 title, Shabazz Muhammad became the eighth player in program history to win Pac-12 Freshman of the Year — sharing the honor with Arizona point guard Jahii Carson.
The star swingman, who ranked third in the Pac-12 with 18.3 points per game, is the first Bruin to win since Kevin Love in 2008. Muhammad also made the 10-man all-conference first team with senior point guard Larry Drew II, while freshman point forward Kyle Anderson was a second-team selection.
Muhammad and Drew both generated some talk for the conference’s Player of the Year Award, but that went to Cal guard Allen Crabbe. Oregon’s Dana Altman won Coach of the Year, and had his Ducks positioned for a conference title before losing the last two games of the season.
Muhammad and Anderson also made the All-Pac-12 Freshman team, but guard Jordan Adams missed the cut for the five-man list. He averaged 15.2 points per game, eighth best in the conference, and was an honorable mention for receiving at least three votes.
The UCLA women’s basketball team lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 final Saturday evening. If you consider that the Cardinal secured their seventh straight tournament title, the outcome doesn’t seem that surprising.
But what will sting the Bruins is how close they came to pulling off their biggest upset of the year, a 51-49 decision that was a missed Markel Walker layup away from overtime. The team retained possession with 0.2 seconds left on the clock, but couldn’t get a shot off. Continue reading →
A little convoluted, but here are the best and worst case Pac-12 tourney seeding scenarios for the top four teams. Each has one game left on Saturday except Cal, which can only sit and wait. Scroll all the way down for the tiebreaker rules.
Oregon (23-7, 12-5)
Best case: No. 1 seed and an outright Pac-12 title. The Ducks beat Utah while UCLA loses to Washington, dropping the Bruins to a three-seed. Cal would be a No. 2 seed because it has a season sweep of Oregon (see second tiebreaker).
Worst case: No. 3 seed. Oregon loses at Utah, while UCLA clinches an outright Pac-12 title with a win at Washington. Cal would get the No. 2 seed. Continue reading →
1. Oregon (23-6, 12-4) — The Ducks are the best team in the Pac-12 as long as Dominic Artis is healthy, but he only saw 12 minutes in a win at Oregon State. Oregon should get its first conference title since 2002 if its point guard’s foot injury is no longer a problem. Damyean Dotson also has a hip injury, but is expected to play.
2. Cal (20-10, 12-6) — Cal’s defense had held locked down opponents to 33.7 percent shooting through a seven-win streak, but couldn’t stop Stanford in their season finale. Allen Crabbe and the Cardinal’s Dwight Powell also started a scuffle that ended with the ejection of two players and three assistant coaches — including Mark Madsen.
3. UCLA (22-8, 12-5) — The Bruins lost to Washington State for the first time in 20 years. Washington State was missing its second- and third-leading scorers. Oh, and UCLA forward Travis Wear re-aggravated his sprained right ankle. A share of the Pac-12 title is within reach if Oregon loses, but what an awful night for this team. Continue reading →
1. Arizona (23-4, 11-4) — Visits from the Washington schools didn’t provide the stiffest challenges, but Arizona took care of both the Huskies and the Cougars with ease last week. Defense is an issue at times, with coach Sean Miller describing it as “terrible” after beating WSU 73-56. The Wildcats allowed Washington State to shoot 52.2 percent in the second half, and would have been in more trouble had the Cougs shot better than 14 of 28 at the line.
2. Cal (18-9, 10-5) — Conference-leading scorer Allen Crabbe has gone a bit cold lately, but Justin Cobbs ensured that a Bear would be named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the third straight time. In his past six games, Cobbs is averaging 16.6 points on 53.4-percent shooting, his best stretch since November. Cal plays its last three games at home and is at least slightly favored in each.
3. UCLA (20-7, 10-4) — The Bruins’ offense is syncing again three bumpy weeks, helped in part by better ball movement and shot selection. They’ve made 6 of 12 from beyond the arc in each of their past two games. UCLA is likely without forward Travis Wear (sprained foot) for at least another game, which is a troubling prospect as it prepares to host ASU and Arizona. Continue reading →
UCLA basketball is clearly set on one task: to make choosing its worst game as hard as possible.
The Bruins’ 76-63 loss at Cal probably doesn’t beat out their early-season faceplant to Cal Poly, but it belongs in the conversation. UCLA was unsightly through the first half, going without a free throw and — until the final minutes of the period — nearly being outscored by the Bears’ star swingman Allen Crabbe. Before the break, the Bruins shot a hair above 30 percent and trailed by as much as 28.
Ben Howland and his players constantly acknowledge that they need to hit the boards harder, hold their blockouts longer. Rarely is an explanation given other than lack of effort or focus. Yet, UCLA was abused on the glass by forwards Richard Solomon and David Kravish — both wiry specimens who aren’t listed above 235 pounds. The pair combined for 21 rebounds and 35 points, with Kravish scoring a career-high 18.
Cal finished with a 41-33 edge on the boards, the sixth time in seven games that UCLA has trailed by at least eight rebounds. The Bears, who entered the game relying on Crabbe and point guard Justin Cobbs for over 50 percent of their scoring output, dominated the Bruins with 46-20 points in the paint. Continue reading →
UCLA is playing its worst basketball of the season, and is down 47-22 at the half against Cal. The win over Washington State now looks like an illusion cast by the Cougars’ own ineptitude, as the Bruins’ offense is again finding new lows. Barring an insanely hot-shooting second half, they’ll finish below 40 percent from the field for the fourth time in five games.
The Bears are crushing UCLA in just about every statistical category. Cal has four players in double figures; UCLA doesn’t have one with more than six points. Cal has 24 rebounds to UCLA’s 14; 26 points in the paint to UCLA’s 10; 8 second-chance points to four; 10 points off turnovers to two.
The Bruins are shooting 30.3 percent while Cal just can’t miss (58.8). The last time UCLA shot below 30 percent was during a 65-55 loss to USC on March 13, 2009 — one in which the sixth-seeded Trojans bounced the second-seeded Bruins.
UCLA (18-5, 8-3) at Cal (14-9, 6-5) Tipoff: 6 p.m., Haas Pavilion TV/Radio: ESPN2/AM 570
At a glance: The last time UCLA saw Cal, the Bears were inking a slot in the NIT. Mike Montgomery’s team arrived at Pauley Pavilion three days into the new year, and proceeded to miss all 13 of its 3-point shots. Combined with another 0-fer performance against Harvard a week prior, Cal left Westwood with an ignominious streak of 19 long-range misses and a 79-65.
The Bears are looking better as of late, having knocked off both Oregon and Arizona in their past three games. Taking down top-10 teams isn’t a bad way to get your first two wins of the season against top-100 RPI opponents, and in doing so, Cal has managed to inject some faint NCAA tournament hopes into a season that was looking like the worst of Montgomery’s five-year tenure.
“His teams have always improved throughout the year and this team’s no exception,” UCLA head coach Ben Howland said of Montgomery.
Added UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad: “They’re looking really good. We played them down here and they didn’t play as well. We didn’t play as well either. We’re really going to be ready for them.” Continue reading →