Notes: Adams’ career-high 31 points pushes UCLA past Washington

– Jordan Adams is hitting on all cylinders heading down the late stretch of the season. The sophomore guard lit up the Huskies for a career-high 31 points in UCLA’s 91-82 win — a total that could have easily been higher if not for a second-half bout with cramps.

Adams scored 10 of UCLA’s first 14 points to set the pace early, and established the offense by earning trips to the line. He also exited a good portion of the second half and didn’t score in the final eight minutes, but his last six points came when the Bruins only led by one point.

UCLA’s most natural scorer hitting his stride in March obviously bodes well for a team that’s angling for a top-five tournament seed. His free throw rate has dropped to 20th in the conference compared to 13th last season, but he his nine free throw attempts were his highest since Dec. 7. Continue reading

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Tony Parker starting to stay out of foul trouble

UCLA big man Tony Parker’s 13-point outing at Stanford last Saturday was his best offensive showing in nearly a month. It also included just one foul — his first game with less than two since Nov. 24. It’s part of a small but not insignificant trend.

Through his first seven Pac-12 games as a sophomore, Parker committed 9.26 fouls per 40 minutes. Continue reading

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Tony Parker not frustrated by mercurial sophomore season

UCLA forward Tony Parker has tripled his playing time, going from 6.3 minutes per game as a freshman to 18.9 as a sophomore.

Other than that, he said, there isn’t anything else new about his second go-round with the Bruins.

“I play,” he said. “That’s the difference. That’s the only really big difference, is I play.”

That alone has been enough to keep him patient. Parker insisted this week that he isn’t frustrated by his up-and-down season under first-year head coach Steve Alford, one captured in his performances this past week: a career-high 22 points against Stanford, followed by 0 points against Cal.

He committed two fouls in 85 seconds on Sunday against the Bears, and said he should have adjusted his play more quickly to what the officials were calling. Continue reading

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Notes: Steve Alford talks Norman Powell’s breakout

Junior guard Norman Powell has steadily improved every part of his game since he arrived at UCLA, but his most dramatic jump this season has come on offense. Still the team’s best man-to-man defender, the San Diego native has bumped his 2-point shooting to 66.4 percent, up from 57.8 last season and 40.5 the year before that.

In conference games, the Bruins rank seventh inside the arc at 48.3 percent, a middling performance that stems at least in part from the roster’s dearth of dominant big men.

Arizona, first in the category, has three starters making more than 56 percent of their 2-point shots. The only UCLA player that clears that mark besides Powell is Tony Parker at 59.8 percent. David Wear and Travis Wear average 52.8 and 46.9 percent, respectively.

Powell scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting in Sunday’s 76-64 win against Cal, an unspectacular but crucial contribution across 30 minutes — the most he has played against a conference opponent.

Head coach Steve Alford talked about Powell’s “breakout year” after the win, pointing out his propensity for driving down the lane and drawing fouls.

That becomes more important in the context of the team as a whole. UCLA’s 37.7 percent free-throw rate ranks just 10th in the conference, and 245th in the country. Powell’s 36.8 percent isn’t exactly hauling that number up, but besides Kyle Anderson (50.0) and Jordan Adams (49.4), he is the best option for generating trips to the line. Continue reading

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UCLA beats Cal, moves into second-place Pac-12 tie

UCLA is now tied for second place in the Pac-12, after a 76-64 win over Cal that saw one big man disappear and another rise.

Three days after scoring a career-high 22 points against Stanford, sophomore Tony Parker was a non-factor early on, picking up two fouls in 85 seconds and sitting most of the first half. He picked up his fourth foul with 11:58 left in the second half, and headed to the bench again.

He finished the game with a rebound, an assist and a missed shot.

His team hardly missed him. It was David Wear who starred, shaking off an illness earlier this week to score a career-high 18 points. He hit 6-of-10 from the field, including two 3-pointers, as well as four free throws. He added seven rebounds. Continue reading

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Notes and quotes: A look at Tony Parker’s career game

Tony Parker was the talk of last night, as his career-high 22 points helped power UCLA to a 91-74 rout of Stanford. The win gives the Bruins a chance to tie for second in the Pac-12 on Sunday, but marked yet another tantalizing effort in the big man’s uneven career.

In arguably his best college game yet, the 6-foot-9 sophomore created many of his own chances, grabbing five of his seven rebounds on the offensive end. It echoed his showing against Arizona earlier this month, in which he snatched five of eight there.

I’m still not convinced Parker can ever produce a 20-and-7 night on even a semi-regular basis, but his effort on the offensive glass has improved. A freshman season spent mostly on the bench saw him grab 6.5 percent of available offensive rebounds. This year, that mark is up to 13.6 percent. Among the conference’s significant contributors (minimum 40 percent of minutes played), that puts him second-best behind Oregon’s Elgin Cook.

“After the Utah game, I watched a lot of clips of Kevin Love and Zach Randolph, who are my favorite players, and I noticed that they stayed around the arc and were active,” said Parker, whose seven free throw attempts were also a career high. “So tonight, I decided to stay around the arc and I kept moving.”

The performance was so surprising that after the postgame press conference, teammate Jordan Adams looked at the box score and snickered at Parker: “You had 22?”

Before his joke about Parker’s clothes, head coach Steve Alford did have a, erm, interesting response when asked how he motivates players: “That’s always on players. The players play. We obviously hope.” Continue reading

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Tony Parker scores career high against Stanford. Key? Anger.

UCLA’s 91-74 win over Stanford saw forward Tony Parker pour in a career-high 22 points — far beyond the 5.6 he had averaged against five previous Pac-12 opponents.

The key might have been a well-placed barb.

“You’ve got to get Tony mad,” said head coach Steve Alford. “It’s kind of hard to make him mad because everybody he sees, he’s friends with. It’s difficult to make him mad. Continue reading

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Tony Parker big down stretch in UCLA’s 75-67 win over Alabama

In the final minute against Alabama, Tony Parker had a block, two rebounds and made both of his free throws to give UCLA a 75-67 victory in the final tuneup at Pauley Pavilion before Pac-12 play begins.

Parker was a 43 percent free-throw shooter before Saturday’s game, where he made 80 percent (4 of 5), including two with 56 seconds left.

“That’s (been weighing) big on me,” Parker said. “I thought I was a better free-throw throw shooter. I keep shooting them in practice. It’s big for me and my game because I will get fouled a lot.” Continue reading

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What to watch: UCLA vs. No. 8 Duke


UCLA (9-1) vs. No. 8 Duke (8-2)
Location:
Madison Square Garden, 4:33 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale, Andy Katz)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

1. This is UCLA’s shot to earn some more national respect before conference play. Ten games into the season, the Bruins look like a good team, not a great one, and a loss at Missouri was enough to drop them from No. 18 in the Associated Press poll to out of the rankings entirely. First-year head coach Steve Alford has said a few times this season that he wants to schedule tougher opponents in the future, and was responsible for getting Duke on the calendar with relatively late notice. Continue reading

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