Kyle Anderson named UCLA’s most valuable player at team banquet

This was a no-brainer.

After leading UCLA to its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008, point guard Kyle Anderson was named the team’s MVP during Monday night’s year-end banquet at the Beverly Hilton. After averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists — leading the Bruins in the latter two — the third-team AP All-American is headed to the NBA along with former teammates Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine.

Adams, who led UCLA with 17.4 points per game, won the J.D. Morgan Memorial Award for outstanding “team” player. Continue reading

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VIDEOS: Bruins talk to media after double-overtime loss to Oregon

Head coach Steve Alford, after the Bruins forced double overtime without their two best players: “I don’t know if I’ve been more proud of a basketball team during a regular season game.”

David Wear walks through his buzzer-beating 3-pointer, one that came off an inbounds pass from twin brother Travis with 1.2 seconds left in regulation. Continue reading

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UCLA forces double-overtime thriller in 87-83 loss to Oregon

Pauley Pavilion nearly saw a miracle.

With 1:01 left on the game clock, UCLA was down seven points and missing its two best players.

The Bruins clawed their way through 11 more minutes, eventually falling 87-83 to Oregon in double overtime. Along the way, they left fans with arguably the most memorable game of the season.

Three hours before the 8 p.m. tipoff, the team had announced the suspensions of point guard Kyle Anderson and leading scorer Jordan Adams.

With little time the prepare, UCLA (21-7, 10-5) went almost the entire first half without an inside bucket and walked into the locker room in a 12-point hole.

No matter. With 1.2 seconds left in regulation, David Wear snuck behind the Ducks’ defense and streaked upcourt for a wide-open three. He caught an inbounds pass from his twin brother, Travis, and drilled a shot from some 30 feet away. Continue reading

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UCLA beats Cal, moves into second-place Pac-12 tie

UCLA is now tied for second place in the Pac-12, after a 76-64 win over Cal that saw one big man disappear and another rise.

Three days after scoring a career-high 22 points against Stanford, sophomore Tony Parker was a non-factor early on, picking up two fouls in 85 seconds and sitting most of the first half. He picked up his fourth foul with 11:58 left in the second half, and headed to the bench again.

He finished the game with a rebound, an assist and a missed shot.

His team hardly missed him. It was David Wear who starred, shaking off an illness earlier this week to score a career-high 18 points. He hit 6-of-10 from the field, including two 3-pointers, as well as four free throws. He added seven rebounds. Continue reading

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Bruins blow out Sacramento State for third straight victory

UCLA kept its record perfect with an 86-50 blowout of Sacramento State on Monday night, the Bruins’ largest winning margin through three games this season.

Guard Jordan Adams scored a game-high 21 points, hitting four of five attempts from 3-point range and scoring seven straight during one UCLA run. He also pocketed eight steals and four rebounds. Point guard Kyle Anderson had eight points and eight assists.

Senior forward Travis Wear remains day-to-day after having an appendectomy on Oct. 28. His twin brother David had 12 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.

Freshman Wanaah Bail (knee) is still sidelined, as is fellow first-year forward Noah Allen. The latter is out six weeks after undergoing surgery for facial fractures.

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UCLA’s season ends with a whimper

AUSTIN, Texas — Without Jordan Adams, sixth-seeded UCLA closed out its turbulent season with a flatlined performance against No. 11-seed Minnesota.

The Bruins were the slated underdog all week long. Once the game actually began at the Frank Erwin Center, they did nothing but reaffirm that talk in a 83-63 loss. What started out as an ugly but mutually designed affair — the teams missed their first 12 combined field goal attempts — eventually turned into a Gophers rout.

Despite shooting 26.7 percent in the first half, UCLA stayed within 10 points at the intermission due to a surprisingly strong rebounding effort. The team ended up with a 42-36 edge on the glass, grabbing 19 offensive boards on 43 missed shots.

It wasn’t until Minnesota point guard Andre Hollins caught fire in the second half that the Bruins were completely sunk. The sophomore scored 23 points after halftime, and added nine rebounds to go with five assists.

Some notes from the game. Continue reading

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Bruins’ defense still lackluster in exhibition

The 83-60 final score in UCLA’s exhibition over Cal State San Marcos belies the the ugly game that took place at Pauley Pavilion Tuesday night, one filled with a generously listed crowd of 4,174.

Not only are the Cougars an NAIA program, they are one that has existed for less than two years. Consider also that they shot an atrocious 6 of 17 from the free throw line — a showing that helped UCLA slowly open a double-digit gap after leading by one midway through the first half.

Ben Howland used the game as a practice session for his man defense, which he had abandoned after the Cal Poly upset. He even asked CSUSM coach Jim Saia — a former UCLA assistant — to have to Cougars play man the entire 40 minutes as well. If the visitors hadn’t missed both open threes and open looks in the paint, the Bruins might have actually had a game on their hands.

Asked what exactly is wrong with the team’s man defense — which he called a “work in progress” — Howland did not provide an encouraging answer.

“Just basic things,” he said. “Basic fundamentals. Jumping to the ball every time your man makes a pass. Being in a good stance both on and off the ball. Playing better post defense.”

UCLA is not an overly athletic team, as Howland himself has pointed out often this year. Inject youth into that mix, and the result is a squad that has often looked clueless against less-than-stellar competition.

In the each of the past two years, the Bruins ranked third in the conference in scoring defense. Eight games into this season, an admittedly small sample size, they are ninth.

“We need to stop the lapses in the defense,” forward David Wear said. “We need better trailing and help-side defense. That will come. A couple more practices, and I think we’ll really see improvements in our man-to-man defense.”

Wear added that a zone defense won’t be sustainable against better teams like Texas, Missouri, and other Pac-12 squads. A scheme that had worked against Cal State Northridge last Wednesday was exposed against San Diego State, which shot 6 of 12 from long range in the second half of a 78-69 win.

Perhaps most unsettling is that UCLA can’t stick to a consistent defensive philosophy. Howland is a man-defense coach, and gets frustrated when he must resort to zone in order to win games. On the other hand, with the Bruins can’t afford to stick with zone — their better defense so far — if they simply get drilled by any good 3-point-shooting team.

“It makes it a lot harder,” freshman Kyle Anderson said. “We haven’t found our niche. Whatever Coach Howland plans on doing, we have to get good enough at it. … Whatever he calls out, that’s what we’ve got to perfect.”

Shaping up: Howland said this week that Shabazz Muhammad won’t be in peak game shape until January. He scored a game-high 19 points against the Cougars. Fellow freshman Tony Parker has battled back spasms and a sprained ankle this season, missing two entire games and all but one minute of a third. He turned the ball over four times in 20 minutes Tuesday night, but did grab eight rebounds — second in the game behind Anderson’s 16.

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Shabazz Muhammad to start against Georgia

Shabazz Muhammad is in line for his first start this season against the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can catch the game on ESPNU. The freshman will slot in for David Wear, who exited last night’s 78-70 loss to Georgia after landed hard on his back after a mid-air collision midway through the second half.

Assuming no more changes between now and tipoff, the starting lineup is now Travis Wear, Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Norman Powell and Larry Drew II. It’s an unorthodox set, but getting Muhammad more time may help him assert himself better early. He was just 2 of 6 for 4 points in the first half, finishing the game with 15 points

“I think at the end, we felt a little bit more comfortable with each other,” Muhammad said last night. “I’m just trying to get out here and really gel with my teammates for the first time. Just trying to get used to the system.”

Tony Parker sat out last night with back spasms, and Tyler Lamb is still recovering from swelling in his left knee after arthroscopic surgery.

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UCLA vs. Indiana State: What to Watch

No. 13 UCLA opens its new stadium Friday night against Indiana State, a team picked because it was John Wooden’s only other coaching stop. The Sycamores return only one starter from a squad that went 8-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Here are some things to keep an eye on as the Bruins face an opponent that will provide more symbolism than challenges. Continue reading

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