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.
Asked this week what it was like watching film of his team’s loss to USC, Ben Howland didn’t mince words.
“It’s depressing,” the UCLA coach said.
The Trojans stunned the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion three weeks ago, debuting in the new stadium with a 75-71 overtime upset. It marked UCLA’s only consecutive loss this season, and sent USC on a four-game winning streak that made interim coach Bob Cantu a legitimate candidate for the full-time job.
Point guard Larry Drew II had the most pointed words that night: “When we play SC again, it’s going to be war.” Continue reading
Ben Howland, long known for his methodical halfcourt offenses, said he once used as many as 45 different sets.
In Saturday’s win at Stanford, the UCLA coach cut that number down to nine. After using around 18 to 20 for most of the season, he wanted to simplify the playbook even further for his young team coming off a quick turnaround.
Two days earlier, the Bruins had shot just 30.3 percent in the first half 76-63 loss at Cal. Against the Cardinal, UCLA shot 54.4 percent from the field.
“It’s all about execution and reading,” Howland said. “You have different reads: ‘If he trails me, I’m going to curl. If he goes ball side screen, I’m going to fade. If he fades, I have to shorten the pass. If he goes underneath, I have to re-screen.’” Continue reading
Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson all landed on the midseason watchlist for the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award — a 12-man group selected by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. The news isn’t a huge surprise given that the trio accounts for 52.7 percent of UCLA’s scoring and 45 percent of its rebounding.
Here’s the complete list in alphabetical order: Continue reading
No. 6 Arizona (16-1, 4-1)
Tipoff: 6 p.m. PT, McKale Center
TV/Radio: ESPN2, AM-570
At a glance: Freshman Shabazz Muhammad called this game a “gotta-win,” something that still holds true after Oregon held on to beat Washington State last night after trailing by 10 at halftime. The Ducks remain the only Pac-12 team undefeated through conference play, and will hold a two-game lead over the loser in Tucson.
Junior forward Travis Wear echoed those same thoughts: “I think we’re all feeling that way right now. … This is a big week for us. We’ve got to get two wins to keep us up there near the top.”
– Arizona has plenty of size with its freshman trio of Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett all measuring at least 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, but gets rebounding contributions Continue reading
Freshmen Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are both showing symptoms of what UCLA head coach Ben Howland called a “stomach virus.” Anderson missed all of Tuesday’s afternoon practice, while Adams returned after missing the middle portion of the session.
Howland said he hopes to have them back for Wednesday, while Anderson tweeted that he felt better after spending the day in bed.
“They were throwing up everywhere,” said freshman Shabazz Muhammad, who thought the reason might have been contaminated lettuce.
Anderson and Adams may not be 100 percent in time for Thursday’s 6 p.m. PT tipoff at Arizona, but will likely be well enough to push through any lingering discomfort. If not, the Bruins Continue reading
Jamaal Wilkes, on whether or not his jersey retirement helped impart a sense of history on the current players: “Even if they don’t understand it, I think it gives the program a shot in the arm. They might not know John Wooden’s career, but they know of him, the icon. When you bring back an iconic figure like him through one of his players, I think it helps the program.”
Head coach Ben Howland: “It’s really special. For me in particular, I’m really disappointed I wasn’t out there. Jamaal was one of my heroes growing up. I’m a little kid in Goleta, Calif. The big star at the local high school (Santa Barbara) his senior year, after moving up from Ventura, is Keith Wilkes. Later on, when he went on to UCLA, I watched all his games. What a great player. The guy was an unbelievable athlete, player. Smart, skilled. … He’s such a classy guy. What a class act.”
Freshman Kyle Anderson: “It’s just a great impression. To put these four letters across our chest, UCLA, is a great honor. You have to play hard every minute out there because you’re part of a tradition that’s so rich.”
Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams, two of the best freshmen in the Pac-12, average 36.2 combined points. Kyle Anderson isn’t as dangerous a scorer, but ranks sixth in the conference in rebounds and seventh in assists.
Left out of the celebration is Tony Parker, who — his development hampered by injuries and lack of playing time — has actually become less-featured since junior center Josh Smith transferred out in late November. In his past five games, the 6-foot-9 freshman has played a total of 20 minutes. His 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds rank lowest among the team’s eight scholarship players.
Two days before Christmas, Parker tweeted: “A lot of (people) told me this wasn’t for me I wish I would’ve listened.” He told ESPN recently that there is no rift between himself and head coach Ben Howland, and a large part of his dissatisfaction is also due to being over 3,000 miles away from his home in Georgia. Parker added that he isn’t sure whether he will return to UCLA next season, and had no comment when asked if he regrets his commitment. Continue reading
Stanford’s loss to USC Thursday night ended on a missed dunk. Blowing a 9-point halftime lead against a team that went 5-24 in the past calendar year already hurts enough. Losing 71-69 when Dwight Powell had a chance to force overtime on a putback — well, that provides plenty of motivation not to screw up the next game.
UCLA is on a six-game winning streak and brimming with confidence, so it should be able to dispatch an unimpressive Cardinal squad at noon Saturday (Pac-12 Networks, AM-570). The Bruins’ youth might hurt them on the quick turnaround, but they have enough firepower to overcome a slow start, especially at home.
At a glance: Stanford isn’t a good shooting team on paper, ranking dead last in the conference with a 40.7 percentage from the field. It doesn’t help that their stats are dragged down significantly by sophomore guard Chasson Randle’s underwhelming season. Last year, the all-conference freshman took 5.2 threes per game and made 43.8 percent of them. That number is down to 21.9, but Randle still ranks eighth in the Pac-12 with 64 3-point attempts, just ahead of conference-leading scorer Allen Crabbe.
Their big men, however, do have the ability to stretch the floor. Continue reading
Shabazz Muhammad recently waged his own battle with the “Freshman 15.”
No more Skittles or In-N-Out Animal Style fries for UCLA’s top recruit, whose weight swelled to as high as 235 pounds this fall before he swore off those favorites. Missing practice time and playing time with injuries and an NCAA investigation didn’t help either.
He’s close to around 220 now, helped by a stricter diet he adopted over a week ago. He doesn’t count calories, but has cut out fried foods and sugars. Muhammad said he didn’t change his eating habits even earlier because he hadn’t yet felt the on-court effects of the added weight.
“When I was 235, I was still 11, 10 percent body fat,” he said. “It was this thing where I thought I was just getting stronger. I was getting stronger, but the muscle weight was slowing me down. Continue reading