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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UCLA 88, UW 66: Tony Parker shakes recent struggles, score 20

Tony Parker couldn’t stay on the floor on UCLA’s last road trip, fouling out in losses at Arizona State and Arizona. In that stretch, he totaled just four points and two rebounds.

Facing Washington at home was a complete 180, as the 6-foot-9 big man abused the Huskies’ undersized lineup early. He made his first four shots, and finished with 20 points as the Bruins won 88-66.

“I only took two shots that (last week),” he said. “I knew I had to come out aggressive and play tough just to get going. … Staying out of foul trouble was a big thing for me too.”

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At a glance: UCLA vs. Washington

UCLA (16-12, 8-7) vs. Washington (15-11, 4-10)
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, BIll Walton)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

Scouting report: A once-promising start to the season for Washington has fallen apart over the last month, with the Huskies stumbling into a seven-game losing streak — the longest of Lorenzo Romar’s 13-yard tenure.

Six of those losses came after the dismissal of big man Robert Upshaw. The 7-foot redshirt sophomore had averaged 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 blocks before violating team rules. No one in college basketball is averaging more than 3.74 blocks per game, and only six are even averaging more than 3.0. And even though he hasn’t played since Jan. 28, Upshaw is still fifth in the country and first in the Pac-12 with 85 total blocks; next-best in the conference is Oregon’s Jordan Bell, who is seven blocks behind despite playing eight more games.

The effect of Upshaw’s absence is easy to gauge. In the seven conference games he played in, he recorded 29 blocks and helped Washington hold opponents to 41 percent shooting from the field. In seven games without him, the Huskies are giving up 53.6 percent.

This means it’s as good a matchup as any for Tony Parker to find his groove again. Continue reading

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