The Pac-12 tournament opened with Arizona State’s 89-88 overtime win over Stanford, one that sets up the Sun Devils as perhaps the toughest second-round matchup UCLA could have had.
The Bruins tip off against ASU at 12 p.m. Thursday after splitting the season series, and will have to contend with Co-Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson. The 5-foot-10 point guard dropped a career-high 34 points on the Cardinal, just one shy of the program record for freshmen. Senior forward Carrick Felix, an all-conference defender, is also a concern.
Some quotes from the Sun Devils after that win, touching a bit on the rubber match with UCLA. Continue reading →
For two decades, the Big East has staged one of college basketball’s biggest events: a raucous celebration of the sport in its mecca. Could the Pac-12 one day compare?
UCLA coach Ben Howland was enthusiastic about his current conference’s decision to move its postseason tourney to Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, comparing its potential to that of the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden. He led Pitt to victory in that competition in 2003, shortly began coaching the the Bruins.
“People love to go to Vegas,” Howland said. “It’s gonna be happening. This ticket, in this league, three years from now, will be one of the most difficult tickets in the country to get. That’s what you have to have. Continue reading →
Two days after UCLA won an outright Pac-12 title, Shabazz Muhammad became the eighth player in program history to win Pac-12 Freshman of the Year — sharing the honor with Arizona point guard Jahii Carson.
The star swingman, who ranked third in the Pac-12 with 18.3 points per game, is the first Bruin to win since Kevin Love in 2008. Muhammad also made the 10-man all-conference first team with senior point guard Larry Drew II, while freshman point forward Kyle Anderson was a second-team selection.
Muhammad and Drew both generated some talk for the conference’s Player of the Year Award, but that went to Cal guard Allen Crabbe. Oregon’s Dana Altman won Coach of the Year, and had his Ducks positioned for a conference title before losing the last two games of the season.
Muhammad and Anderson also made the All-Pac-12 Freshman team, but guard Jordan Adams missed the cut for the five-man list. He averaged 15.2 points per game, eighth best in the conference, and was an honorable mention for receiving at least three votes.
UCLA has won the Pac-12 regular season championship for the first time since 2008.
The Bruins clinched a share of the title with a 61-54 win over turnover-prone Washington, their first road victory over the Huskies since 2004. A few minutes later, Utah finished off Oregon with a 10-point win in Salt Lake City, leaving UCLA alone at the top of the conference. Continue reading →
The night couldn’t have started worse for No. 23 UCLA, which is lucky to be down just 35-24 to Washington State at halftime.
The Bruins opened the game 1 of 10 from the field while playing some porous defense against the conference’s worst team. WSU used a matchup zone to keep UCLA from getting its second field goal until almost 10 minutes had elapsed. Even without its No. 2 and No. 3 scorers — Mike Ladd (thumb knee) and DaVonte Lacy (knee) — the Cougars ran out a 25-4 lead with eight minutes to go. Continue reading →
UCLA (22-7, 12-4) at Washington State (11-18, 2-14)
Tipoff: 6:30 p.m., Beasley Coliseum TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/AM 570
At a glance: A loss in Pullman would be inexcusable for a conference contender. Washington State hasn’t beaten UCLA in Pullman since February 1993, seven months before any of the Bruins’ four freshmen were born.
WSU has lost nine straight games, and 11 of its past 12. No other team in the conference has lost more than five in a row all season. The Cougars aren’t trending up either. Since one-point losses at home to both Oregon and Oregon State, they’ve lost their last three by an average of 11 points — allowing opponents to shoot 52.9 percent from the field over that stretch. Most comically, they’ve had 14.3 percent of their shots blocked, the worst mark in the country. Continue reading →
Looks like ESPN College GameDay was memorable for Jay Bilas. The network’s analyst, who was in town last Saturday for UCLA’s win over Arizona, has pegged Bruin point guard Larry Drew II as his choice for Pac-12 Player of the Year.
After helping UCLA to a weekend sweep over ASU and Arizona, Kyle Anderson was rewarded with his first Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.
The freshman point forward scored a career-high 21 against the Sun Devils, grabbing 15 boards for his eighth double-double of the season. He’s in the midst of his most productive offensive stretch yet, averaging 16.5 points and 11 rebounds over his last four games. Anderson has also totaled 14 assists, six blocks and six steals in those outings.
Freshman swingman Shabazz Muhammad was also named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Dec. 31, the only other Bruin to do so this season.
Q: Larry Scott has been very active since becoming commissioner, expanding the conference from ten to twelve, creating the Pac-12 Networks, and bringing a tremendous amount of new revenue to each member school. Any idea that the next big thing from Scott will be?
A: Most pressing is getting a DirecTV deal nailed down, but that’s not exactly a “big thing” so much as a necessary one. Scott has said consistently over the past few months that the conference isn’t looking to expand, so the Pac-12 probably won’t be leading the country into an era of 16-team superconferences. What he might look to do next is push for some significant reform in the NCAA, especially as the institution’s enforcement policies look more and more like a joke. Scott has been candid about the need for change in the past, something he reaffirmed again on Saturday.
Q: What is the latest news on RB Craig Lee commitment status? Also, we heard of the great recruiting class UCLA had this year but did not hear of any high school seniors that flipped their commitment. Were there any? Continue reading →
UCLA earned itself a solid 74-69 victory against Arizona Saturday night, a convincing win that keeps the Bruins controlling a share of the Pac-12 lead (game story here). The Bruins also clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament, and will finish no lower than a third seed. Look for them to finally be ranked again for the first time since January.