Another trip, another split. For the second time in conference play, UCLA squandered a chance to claw up the standings by dropping the tail end of a road series.
The Bruins fell 71-67 at Oregon State, and t here were few excuses available this time. The loss at Utah last month — one that followed a win at then-No. 21 Colorado — came with an additional flight from Denver to Salt Lake City; Corvallis is less than an hour’s drive from Eugene. The Utes’ Huntsman Center is among the rowdiest venues in the conference; Gill Coliseum draws an average of 3,897, the second-worst showing in the Pac-12.
And to top it all off, coach Steve Alford had an extra day to prepare heading into an 11:30 a.m. Sunday tipoff.
Point guard Kyle Anderson was named Pac-12 Player of the Week, becoming the first UCLA player to earn the honor this season.
The sophomore averaged 15.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the Bruins’ wins over Stanford and Cal. He now has 11 double-doubles this season, including a triple-double against Morehead State in November.
Despite the recognition of Anderson, UCLA remained unranked in the latest Associated Poll. The team received 39 points in voting, which would place it 28th in the country if rankings extended past the top 25.
UCLA snuck back into the Associated Press poll a week ago, and will almost certainly drop out again on Monday after a loss to unranked Utah.
This is what the Bruins are now: a borderline top-25 team that followed up its first win over a ranked team with a 74-69 loss in Salt Lake City.
After beating No. 21 Colorado on Thursday, they opened the afternoon in Salt Lake City with a sloppy effort on both ends. The awful first half — 31 percent shooting, 48.3 percent allowed — sank UCLA, whose late run fell short before a crowd of 12,267 at the Huntsman Center.
After scoring a season-low six points at Colorado on Thursday, Kyle Anderson finished with a career-high 28 points, with 13 coming before halftime. He also chipped in seven rebounds and seven assists, but coughed the ball up five times.
Point guard Kyle Anderson agreed that UCLA’s recent improvement in rebounding showed the team it wasn’t playing up to its potential earlier in the season. The Bruins beat ASU on the boards, 42-29, on Sunday.
No. 1: Battle of the bigs. Arizona’s frontline is almost certainly the best in the Pac-12, especially with the addition of forward Aaron Gordon. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound true freshman hasn’t quite matched the hype of a future lottery pick, but he plays with non-stop energy and is still averaging 12.4 points, 1.0 blocks, and a team-high 8.0 rebounds.
Slot him into the lineup alongside sophomores Brandon Ashley (6-foot-8, 230) and Kaleb Tarczewski (7-foot, 235), and it’s no surprise that the Wildcats clean the glass more thoroughly than any team in the conference. Arizona’s offensive rebounding percentage of 41.4 ranks eighth in the country. The Pac-12’s next-best team is Colorado, which sits way down at 57th (36.2 percent). Continue reading “What to watch: UCLA vs. No. 1 Arizona” »