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.
Some notes: Continue reading
Ever since his hype as the nation’s top recruit, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad has been almost universally regarded as a one-and-done — bound for the NBA Draft after his spending a season showing off his wares in college.
After the Bruins beat Arizona 74-69 in their last home game of the season, coach Ben Howland said he expected that to still hold true.
“I’m very much a realist now,” Howland said. “I knew going into this that it was a one-year deal. And it should be. He’s a lottery pick. He’s a top-five pick. When you have that going for you, it is absolutely the right thing for him. That was his last game at Pauley Pavilion, no doubt about it. Continue reading
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.
UCLA (21-7, 11-4) vs. No. 11 Arizona (23-5, 11-5)
Tipoff: 6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV/Radio: ESPN/AM 570
At a glance: Both Arizona and UCLA need a win to boost their chances at a Pac-12 Championship. Oregon currently sits in first place at 12-4, and has road games left against Colorado and Utah. The Ducks, who now have point guard Dominic Artis again, likely won’t drop both.
As it stands, the Bruins can still claim a share of the conference title as long as they win out. Oregon’s head-to-head tiebreaker will give them the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament assuming UCLA finishes with the same record. Continue reading
If you weren’t among those camping out for ESPN College GameDay early this morning, you missed out on Ben Howland and Shabazz Muhammad trying their hand at beer pong.
From the Daily Bruin live blog:
UCLA’s game against Arizona on Saturday officially sold out this morning, but you can still make the 6 p.m. tipoff if you turn to either Bruin TicketExchange (starting at $115 as of this writing) or Stubhub ($60).
Point guard Larry Drew II will receive a “Senior Night” ceremony prior to tipoff.
ESPN College Gameday also makes its second-ever appearance at Pauley Pavilion after visiting for the Bruins’ 82-60 win over the Wildcats in 2008. Doors open at 5 a.m. and admission is free.
UCLA (20-7, 10-4) vs. ASU (20-8, 9-6)
Tipoff: 8:30 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/AM 570
At a glance: UCLA had one of its worst games of the season against Arizona State, a 78-60 laugher in Tempe
Tucson that sucked all the goodwill from the Bruins’ upset of Arizona. Many players said they’re still using that game as motivation, similar to the way they did Sunday in avenging their home loss to USC.
ASU has been inconsistent, but needs a win to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive. Ben Howland said this week he expects the Sun Devils — projected as one of the last teams out of the field of 68 — to play with that sort of desperate attitude. Continue reading
Opportunity is knocking for Tony Parker.
At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Parker is UCLA’s lone true big man — an asset that, if developed, would solve one of the Bruins’ most glaring woes. He’s yet to become that frontcourt salve, a combination of poor health and inconsistent play keeping him off the floor.
That changed a bit Sunday, as he pick-and-rolled his way to eight first-half points in a 75-59 win at USC. When UCLA tips off against Arizona State at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the freshman will get another chance to earn minutes.
“It’s just teaching him to play with physicality,” coach Ben Howland said. “He’s got a great lower body. He’s got good strength. He’s got good hands.”
The downsides? His defense, while improving, isn’t where it should be. He dribbles too often in the low post, giving opposing defenders a chance to block his shot. Continue reading
Shabazz Muhammad’s eye is finally opening up again after swelling up with pink eye last week. The freshman swingman shot just 2 of 7 from the field at USC on Sunday, and said his condition was a factor.
“It seemed unproportionate,” Muhammad said of his vision. “Couldn’t really see out of my right eye. But it’s really open now, so I’ll be fine tomorrow.”
UCLA’s leading scorer will be getting a set of prescription goggles soon to wear in practice, but he plans to wear contacts in games. He has never worn goggles during basketball before and said he doesn’t want to risk it affecting his play.
Muhammad was also named Tuesday to the midseason top-30 list for the Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s top player. Cal guard Allen Crabbe was the only other Pac-12 player to make the cut.