UCLA Bruins (14-10, 6-5) vs. Oregon State (16-7, 7-4)
Tipoff: Wednesday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Spero Dedes, Kevin O’Neill)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
Scouting report: If defense is mostly about effort, then first-year head coach Wayne Tinkle has Oregon State working harder than it has in at least a decade.
According to kenpom.com, the Beavers have ranked top-100 nationally in defensive efficiency since 2003, and sank all the way to 215th during former coach Craig Robinson’s final season. Just one year later, OSU is now ranked eighth — right behind Pac-12 leaders Utah and Arizona.
The team has become greater than the sum of its parts. Gutted by the loss of the team’s top-five scorers in 2013-14, Tinkle even resorted to holding an open tryout back in October. Now, he’s turned that collection of players into a roster that is fifth-best in the country in opposing 3-point percentage, top-20 in block and turnover percentage.
But like many teams in the conference, Oregon State hasn’t looked the same away from home. Continue reading
Give UCLA at least this: It didn’t go down easy.
Gill Coliseum has not been an easy place to play this season. Before the Bruins arrived in Corvallis for what would turn out to be a 66-55 loss to Oregon State on Thursday night, 10 other teams had entered the 9,600-seat stadium — and 10 teams had left empty-handed. That tally included No. 7 Arizona, which suffered a two-point upset there earlier this month.
So the location already bode poorly for UCLA, which has not won a game outside of Los Angeles since Nov. 28. The absence of center Tony Parker, who did not make the trip due to back spasms, hardly helped either. In his place was freshman Thomas Welsh, a 7-footer making his first career start.
And at the start of the game, it was Welsh who opened up scoring, sinking a jumper 17 seconds in. UCLA needed another eight minutes to hit a second field goal. Continue reading
UCLA is still without center Tony Parker, who did not travel with the Bruins to Oregon State on Thursday due to back spasms.
Barring a late flight up, Parker does not appear on track to play against Oregon on Saturday either. Without the junior big man, UCLA offense looked abysmal against the Beavers in the first half — shooting just 7 of 30 and falling into a 29-19 hole at the break.
Parker had averaged 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in the last four games, and even in losses, UCLA’s offense looked best when it could utilize him as part of an inside-out attack.
Freshman Thomas Welsh, who made his first career start in place of Parker, made the first basket of the game for the Bruins at Gill Coliseum. However, the team struggled to find rhythm after that, missing 14 straight shots.
» Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin came out on Wednesday, becoming first openly gay active player in Division I football.
» Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon is trying to win Arizona’s starting quarterback — something that would require beating out transfers from USC, LSU and Texas.
» The Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise $2.3 million for the national ALS association since July 29, and UCLA coach Jim Mora accepted a challenge to join yesterday:
» Washington State crossed the Idaho border for training camp, but wildfires forced the Cougars back to Pullman. Continue reading
» In a conference filled with newcomers, Oregon State coach Mike Riley is heading into his 14th season in the Pac-12. “Mike’s kind of a godfather,” said Stanford’s David Shaw.
» Apparently no longer content with uniform experimentation, Oregon will debut scratch-and-sniff season tickets this year. Unfortunately, the sticker is a Carl’s Jr. ad and likely smells like burgers rather than ducks.
» A former ASU running back was found shot to death on a hiking trial near Sedona. Continue reading