Norman Powell didn’t have his best shooting night during UCLA’s 85-74 win over USC, but it didn’t matter much in the big picture. In an up-and-down season, the Bruins clinched a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament — something they couldn’t have done without the player the senior that developed into their leading scorer.
The 6-foot-4 guard walked off the Pauley Pavilion floor with 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“It was really emotional,” he said. “I’m just glad we were able to get a win. … Being able to sweep them this year and be the kings of L.A., I’m going to remember that forever.”
UCLA held a “Senior Night” ceremony shortly before Wednesday night’s tipoff against USC. Unsurprisingly, starting guard Norman Powell got the loudest reception, drawing a standing ovation from Pauley Pavilion when his name was announced.
Also recognized were walk-on guards David Brown, Nick Kazemi and Kory Alford.
Norman Powell has played in 135 career games for UCLA, a mark bested by only a handful of other Bruins in program history. Along the way, he has gone from little-used benchwarmer to one of the most exciting driving guards in the conference.
He has also gone 7-1 against USC, becoming the first UCLA player to get a career road sweep against the Trojans since Toby Bailey did from 1995-98.
It’s fitting then that the 6-foot-4 guard will get to face the crosstown rival on Wednesday at 6 p.m., his last game ever at Pauley Pavilion barring a trip to the NIT. Asked about playing the Trojans, Powell relayed a message he said head coach Steve Alford had used to open the week.
Norman Powell has earned yet another Pac-12 Player of the Week award, making him the only player in the conference to do so three times this season.
UCLA’s senior guard scored a career-high 28 points in Sunday night’s 72-67 win over Washington State, hitting a key 3-pointer with 1:34 left as well as 4 of 6 free throws in the final 41 seconds. Four days earlier, he scored 24 in a blowout of Washington.
This was arguably the best statistical two-game stretch of his career, one that saw him shoot 61.8 percent from the field and average 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals. Without his performance against the Cougars, the Bruins’ likely would have slipped off from bubble team to NIT-bound.
Powell also won the conference’s top weekly honor on Nov. 24 and Feb. 2. His third nod moved him past Cal’s Tyrone Wallace and Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, who have both been named Pac-12 Player of the Week twice this season.
As his time in a UCLA uniform nears its end, senior guard Norman Powell is playing some of the best basketball of his career. In UCLA’s 72-67 win over Washington State on Sunday, he paved the way with a career-high 28 points.
But he wouldn’t have gotten there if not for the Cougars’ foul-happy ways. Powell took six of his 10 free throws in the final 41 seconds, and needed every one of them to hit his new milestone. Continue reading
After UCLA’s 57-47 loss at No. 7 Arizona on Saturday, the Bruins can no longer get to 20 regular-season wins — a mark that would have likely secured them a spot in March Madness. Asked about his team’s postseason chances, senior guard Norman Powell remained optimistic.
“It’s fuel to our fire,” he said. “Holding serve at home, and making a run in the (Pac-12) Tournament — that’s what’s going to lock us up getting back into the NCAA Tournament.”
Asked if that meant securing the conference’s automatic bid, Powell said: “Right now, we’re just focused on these three games.”
UCLA (16-11, 8-6) at No. 7 Arizona (23-3, 11-2)
Saturday, Feb. 21, 6 p.m. PT, McKale Center
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Shannon Spake)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
Scouting report: Like it did a year ago, Arizona looks like the Pac-12′s best chance at the Final Four. The difference is that this edition of the Wildcats is even more balanced than the one that fell to Wisconsin in overtime of the Elite Eight — one that, along the way, went undefeated at home and spent eight straight weeks at No. 1.
After losing Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the NBA draft, UofA reloaded with five-star wing Stanley Johnson. The Mater Dei product has lived up to every bit of the hype, leading the team in scoring (14.5) and rebounds (6.7) and ranking second in assists (1.96) and steals (1.5). He also shoots an absurd 50.5 percent on 2-point jumpers, making 55 of 109; none of the Bruins’ starters hit more than 38.5 percent. The likely top-10 pick will be a nightmare matchup for UCLA, and is also the only person keeping UCLA’s Kevon Looney from winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
The Wildcats are flat out more talented than the Bruins. They have a veteran point guard in T.J. McConnell, a forward who can stretch the floor in Brandon Ashley, an athletic defender in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and a 7-foot center in Kaleb Tarczewski. Continue reading
UCLA looked like it had a chance at Arizona State, Isaac Hamilton pulling up on the right wing for what could have been a game-winning, buzzer 3-pointer. But even that was likely a mirage — just another ill-conceived play in a 68-66 loss, one that delivered a gut punch to the Bruins’ NCAA Tournament hopes.
Hamilton’s shot wasn’t reviewed, since all it drew was back iron and the sighs of UCLA fans hopeful for a late-season surge. On the replay, however, the sophomore’s fingertips looked like they were still on the ball as the backboard lit up red. With 6.8 seconds left, UCLA likely hadn’t created a viable last shot.
The Bruin offense had looked disjointed for much of the second period, missing 11 of its first 14 shots after the break to lose what had been a 36-32 halftime lead.
Norman Powell led the team with 16 points, but didn’t score a second-half point until the final 92 seconds. Big man Tony Parker was a non-factor, fouling out with 9:42 left on the game clock; he finished with just two points and one rebound, his worst showing of the year.
But what really sank the Bruins was lackluster rebounding and indifferent defense. Arizona State dominated them on the boards, 39-27, and sank an array of shots at close range. The Sun Devils shot 54.5 percent on 2-point attempts, and scored 36 points in the paint — 14 more than UCLA. Continue reading
– The game story on UCLA’s 72-63 win over Oregon at Pauley Pavilion, one that featured a highlight-reel day from Norman Powell.
– Mark Whicker’s column on how Tony Parker’s presence has helped keep the Bruins’ NCAA Tournament hopes alive.