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.
UCLA’s comfortable win over USC kept its Pac-12 title hopes alive. The Bruins sit just a half-game back of Arizona and Oregon for the conference lead, and will play the Wildcats again at home on Saturday. Pauley Pavilion will host ESPN’s College GameDay as a lead-up, with doors opening at 5 a.m.
Here are some notes from the Galen Center. Continue reading
Ben Howland, long known for his methodical halfcourt offenses, said he once used as many as 45 different sets.
In Saturday’s win at Stanford, the UCLA coach cut that number down to nine. After using around 18 to 20 for most of the season, he wanted to simplify the playbook even further for his young team coming off a quick turnaround.
Two days earlier, the Bruins had shot just 30.3 percent in the first half 76-63 loss at Cal. Against the Cardinal, UCLA shot 54.4 percent from the field.
“It’s all about execution and reading,” Howland said. “You have different reads: ‘If he trails me, I’m going to curl. If he goes ball side screen, I’m going to fade. If he fades, I have to shorten the pass. If he goes underneath, I have to re-screen.’” Continue reading