The Sporting News released its ranking of all 125 college football coaches today, and UCLA’s Jim Mora came in at No. 28 — one spot ahead of Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez. In the Pac-12, only Stanford’s David Shaw (seventh) and Oregon State’s Mike Riley (14th) are higher.
I agree with this list more than the one Athlon Sports released earlier this month, which docked Mora heavily for inexperience. That ranking placed him at 54th in the country and — inexplicably — eighth among Pac-12 coaches behind Mike MacIntyre and Steve Sarkisian.
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.
The UCLA women’s basketball team lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 final Saturday evening. If you consider that the Cardinal secured their seventh straight tournament title, the outcome doesn’t seem that surprising.
But what will sting the Bruins is how close they came to pulling off their biggest upset of the year, a 51-49 decision that was a missed Markel Walker layup away from overtime. The team retained possession with 0.2 seconds left on the clock, but couldn’t get a shot off. Continue reading →
The final Pac-12 tournament seeds:
1. UCLA (23-8, 13-5)
2. Cal (20-10, 12-6)
3. Oregon (23-8, 12-6)
4. Arizona (24-6, 12-6)
5. Colorado (20-10, 10-8)
6. Washington (17-14, 9-9)
7. USC (14-17, 9-9)
8. Stanford (18-13, 9-9)
9. Arizona State (20-11, 9-9)
10. Utah (13-17, 5-13)
11. Washington State (13-18, 4-14)
12. Oregon State (14-17, 4-14)
Here are the tiebreaker rules. The Bruins will play noon Thursday on the Pac-12 Network against the winner of the Stanford-Arizona State game (noon Wednesday). You can find ticket information at the official tournament page.
The Bruins slugged their way to another low-scoring game in the Pac-12′s opening weekend, combining with Stanford to shoot just 31.4 percent in the first half.
Even when it should have coasted to victory with a double-digit lead, UCLA left the door open with four straight missed free throws. It took a boneheaded decision by Stanford to call a non-existent timeout to truly seal the win.
“Any win is beautiful,” Ben Howland said afterward.
Except that isn’t the case anymore. The embarrassing Cal Poly loss in November involved a team that looks nothing like the one that now calls Pauley Pavilion home. This current incarnation of UCLA basketball has improved to the point where just getting a win isn’t enough. Young talent is gelling and, when the transition game works in peak form, the Bruins look like a team that could knock off a couple of teams in March. Continue reading →
Stanford’s loss to USC Thursday night ended on a missed dunk. Blowing a 9-point halftime lead against a team that went 5-24 in the past calendar year already hurts enough. Losing 71-69 when Dwight Powell had a chance to force overtime on a putback — well, that provides plenty of motivation not to screw up the next game.
UCLA is on a six-game winning streak and brimming with confidence, so it should be able to dispatch an unimpressive Cardinal squad at noon Saturday (Pac-12 Networks, AM-570). The Bruins’ youth might hurt them on the quick turnaround, but they have enough firepower to overcome a slow start, especially at home.
At a glance: Stanford isn’t a good shooting team on paper, ranking dead last in the conference with a 40.7 percentage from the field. It doesn’t help that their stats are dragged down significantly by sophomore guard Chasson Randle’s underwhelming season. Last year, the all-conference freshman took 5.2 threes per game and made 43.8 percent of them. That number is down to 21.9, but Randle still ranks eighth in the Pac-12 with 64 3-point attempts, just ahead of conference-leading scorer Allen Crabbe.