Bruins treating Vegas as business trip

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

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Muhammad leads Bruins in Pac-12 awards

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.

Here’s the full list of conference awards: Continue reading

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Bruins win outright Pac-12 title

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

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UCLA at WSU: Halftime update

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

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UCLA at WSU: What to Watch

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

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