AUSTIN, Texas — Without Jordan Adams, sixth-seeded UCLA closed out its turbulent season with a flatlined performance against No. 11-seed Minnesota.
The Bruins were the slated underdog all week long. Once the game actually began at the Frank Erwin Center, they did nothing but reaffirm that talk in a 83-63 loss. What started out as an ugly but mutually designed affair — the teams missed their first 12 combined field goal attempts — eventually turned into a Gophers rout.
Despite shooting 26.7 percent in the first half, UCLA stayed within 10 points at the intermission due to a surprisingly strong rebounding effort. The team ended up with a 42-36 edge on the glass, grabbing 19 offensive boards on 43 missed shots.
It wasn’t until Minnesota point guard Andre Hollins caught fire in the second half that the Bruins were completely sunk. The sophomore scored 23 points after halftime, and added nine rebounds to go with five assists.
At a glance: UCLA had one of its worst games of the season against Arizona State, a 78-60 laugher in Tempe Tucson that sucked all the goodwill from the Bruins’ upset of Arizona. Many players said they’re still using that game as motivation, similar to the way they did Sunday in avenging their home loss to USC.
ASU has been inconsistent, but needs a win to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive. Ben Howland said this week he expects the Sun Devils — projected as one of the last teams out of the field of 68 — to play with that sort of desperate attitude. Continue reading →
At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Parker is UCLA’s lone true big man — an asset that, if developed, would solve one of the Bruins’ most glaring woes. He’s yet to become that frontcourt salve, a combination of poor health and inconsistent play keeping him off the floor.
That changed a bit Sunday, as he pick-and-rolled his way to eight first-half points in a 75-59 win at USC. When UCLA tips off against Arizona State at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the freshman will get another chance to earn minutes.
“It’s just teaching him to play with physicality,” coach Ben Howland said. “He’s got a great lower body. He’s got good strength. He’s got good hands.”
The downsides? His defense, while improving, isn’t where it should be. He dribbles too often in the low post, giving opposing defenders a chance to block his shot. Continue reading →
Q: Was Tony Parker hurt in the second half? Some are saying that is why he didn’t play more after a coming out party in the first half.
A: Ben Howland said Parker got tired as USC was making a run. Also said the officials got on Parker for getting “chippy,” but mostly attributed the limited minutes to fatigue. He also basically said that Parker would be relied on to produce similarly against Arizona State. Travis Wear’s official status is day to day, but I doubt he’ll be ready by Wednesday.
Q: How much of this “can’t get the recruit in” is a PR stunt to tow the “Harvard of the West” fantasy? Continue reading →
UCLA’s comfortable win over USC kept its Pac-12 title hopes alive. The Bruins sit just a half-game back of Arizona and Oregon for the conference lead, and will play the Wildcats again at home on Saturday. Pauley Pavilion will host ESPN’s College GameDay as a lead-up, with doors opening at 5 a.m.
UCLA’s offense looks about as good as it has all season, and enters halftime with a comfortable 47-26 lead over USC. The Bruins opened the game with seven straight points, and haven’t really allowed eased off yet at the Galen Center.
They’re outshooting the Trojans by a wide margin (58.6 percent to 33.3) but most impressive are their 13 assists on 17 field goals. Continue reading →
Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams, two of the best freshmen in the Pac-12, average 36.2 combined points. Kyle Anderson isn’t as dangerous a scorer, but ranks sixth in the conference in rebounds and seventh in assists.
Left out of the celebration is Tony Parker, who — his development hampered by injuries and lack of playing time — has actually become less-featured since junior center Josh Smith transferred out in late November. In his past five games, the 6-foot-9 freshman has played a total of 20 minutes. His 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds rank lowest among the team’s eight scholarship players.
Two days before Christmas, Parker tweeted: “A lot of (people) told me this wasn’t for me I wish I would’ve listened.” He told ESPN recently that there is no rift between himself and head coach Ben Howland, and a large part of his dissatisfaction is also due to being over 3,000 miles away from his home in Georgia. Parker added that he isn’t sure whether he will return to UCLA next season, and had no comment when asked if he regrets his commitment. Continue reading →
UCLA’s 65-63 win was about as ugly a showing of basketball as you’ll see all year, a sloppy affair that looked like two teams trying their best not to win. Longhorns coach Rick Barnes said as much afterward, stating that to him, UCLA hadn’t won; Texas had given the game away.
The Bruins ended the game on a 12-2 run, but that didn’t erase what was essentially a microcosm of the team’s defensive woes.
Poor 3-point defense: The eye test has been pretty clear: UCLA runs into significant trouble against good 3-point shooting teams, with San Diego State being the best example. But how do the stats break down? A few days ago, Ken Pomeroy wrote that 3-point defense shouldn’t be measured by opposing shooting percentage, but by the amount of threes opponents take at all. Teams have much more control in preventing threes entirely versus controlling how often they go in after they’re released.
Under Ben Howland, here’s where UCLA has ranked in 3PA% (percentage of field goal attempts taken from 3-point range):
2012-13 – 36.9% – No. 275 in the country, entering Saturday
2011-12 – 31.0% – 103
2010-11 – 25.8% – 10 (NCAA second round)
2009-10 – 33.3% – 203 Continue reading →