UCLA reaches second straight Sweet 16, Tony Parker scores 28

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Tony Parker began this NCAA Tournament with one of his worst outings of the season.

He only played 18 minutes in Thursday’s win over SMU, even though he only had two fouls. He finished with three points and two rebounds. He missed five of his six shots, and sat for the final five minutes of the game.

“For whatever reason, he was run down a bit,” said UCLA coach Steve Alford.

On Saturday, he made up for lost time, anchoring the No. 11-seed Bruins as they earned a second straight trip to the Sweet 16. In a 92-75 win over 14th-seeded UAB, Parker scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. It was his sixth double-double of the season.

By halftime, he had already scored 19 points. No one else in this NCAA Tournament had scored more in a single period. Against a Blazers squad not blessed with size, the 6-foot-9 center was part of UCLA’s early game plan to attack the paint. Continue reading

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Norman Powell wants to make sure USC finishes last in the Pac-12

Norman Powell wants to leave Pauley Pavilion with one more win against USC. He scored 22 points in an 83-66 victory over the Trojans on Jan. 14. (John McCoy/Staff)

Norman Powell wants to leave Pauley Pavilion with one more win against USC. He scored 22 points in an 83-66 victory over the Trojans on Jan. 14. (John McCoy/Staff)

Norman Powell has played in 135 career games for UCLA, a mark bested by only a handful of other Bruins in program history. Along the way, he has gone from little-used benchwarmer to one of the most exciting driving guards in the conference.

He has also gone 7-1 against USC, becoming the first UCLA player to get a career road sweep against the Trojans since Toby Bailey did from 1995-98.

It’s fitting then that the 6-foot-4 guard will get to face the crosstown rival on Wednesday at 6 p.m., his last game ever at Pauley Pavilion barring a trip to the NIT. Asked about playing the Trojans, Powell relayed a message he said head coach Steve Alford had used to open the week.

“We have a chance to make them finish last in the conference,” he said. Continue reading

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Thomas Welsh makes third career start against Washington State

UCLA center Thomas Welsh (40) grabs a rebound over Long Beach State's David Samuels during a 77-63 win at Pauley Pavilion on November 23, 2014. (Stephen Carr / Staff)

UCLA center Thomas Welsh (40) grabs a rebound over Long Beach State’s David Samuels during a 77-63 win on Nov. 23, 2014. (Stephen Carr/Staff)

Thomas Welsh made his third career start for UCLA on Sunday, replacing center Tony Parker in the lineup against Washington State.

Parker was stuck to the bench for tipoff at Pauley Pavilion because he had been late to a shootaround earlier in the day, but entered the game at the 14:40 mark of the first half. Welsh had also replaced Parker for games at Oregon State and Oregon in January, which the junior missed due to back spasms.

During that trip, the 7-foot freshman totaled 12 points and 11 rebounds in 59 combined minutes against the Beavers and the Ducks. UCLA lost both games.

Welsh is averaging 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 points on 43.9 percent shooting in his first season.

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