UCLA coach Steve Alford talked to the media today about Jordan Adams and Travis Wear’s recent shooting, as well as freshman guard Zach LaVine’s struggles from the field. Heading into their Bay Area trip, the Bruins are ranked No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 25 in USA Today — their first appearance in the top 25 since Jan. 13.
Point guard Kyle Anderson was named one of 23 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, becoming one of four Pac-12 players to make the latest cut.
After acknowledging that it was an honor, he talked a little today about how his thumb injury threw off his shooting mechanics last season. After averaging 21.1 percent from the 3-point line as a freshman, he has more than doubled that number to 52.4.
Anderson originally injured his left thumb during St. Anthony High’s appearance in the state title game, then aggravated it further in three all-star competitions. Continue reading
– Steve Alford is doing something right at halftime.
UCLA flipped the switch again in Saturday’s 80-66 win over Utah, one that featured a 12-0 run to start the second half. The trend has been most apparent in their last five games — with the Bruins outshooting opponents 52.9 percent to 40.6 percent after the break — but holds across a larger sample size too.
In second halves of its Pac-12 schedule, UCLA is shooting 48.0 percent from the field while allowing 41.6 percent.
“That’s where we make our runs,” point guard Kyle Anderson said. “Coach told us about the old Lakers teams, the old Bulls teams — the third quarter in the NBA is where the best teams are normally the best teams.”
The Bruins need to limit the slow starts that have plagued them as of late, but they’ve at least proven themselves capable of overcoming early rough patches.
– Has the defense improved? UCLA is ranked sixth in conference in field goal percentage defense, up slightly from eighth a year ago, but that’s due more to the competition: the number is only down half a percent to 42.0. Continue reading
Warm applause greeted Jordan Adams as he sat down on UCLA’s bench, leaving a blowout win with over eight minutes left on the clock.
The sophomore guard could’ve easily topped his career-high, but his Bruins were already well on their way to a 80-66 victory over Utah — one that featured yet another explosive second half. No sense in risking injury to their leading scorer.
Even without needing him for nearly a quarter of the game, UCLA now sits just one game back from Arizona for first in the Pac-12.
Adams finished with 24 points, knocking down all three of his attempts from downtown and shooting 10-of-14 overall. Continue reading
Utah (17-7, 6-6) at UCLA (19-5, 8-3)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks (JB Long, Don MacLean)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
No. 1: How will Utah fare away from home? On Thursday, the Utes beat USC to finally notch their first road win since Jan. 19, 2013. With a trip through the Bay Area still looming, it may very well be their last of the regular season.
Most bothersome for the up-and-coming program is the inability to finish on the road. In their five road losses in conference play, they thrice blew double-digit leads.
The Bruins had one of their worst offensive halves of the season in Salt Lake City last month, and haven’t completely shaken the slow-start bug since. They can’t afford losing at Pauley Pavilion to a lesser team, not when first place is within sights again thanks to Arizona State’s upset of Arizona.
No. 2: Delon Wright. The younger brother of NBA forward Dorell Wright turned out to be a major recruiting coup for the Utes, transferring from the City College of San Francisco to become their most versatile player. Continue reading
Zach LaVine is just six of 29 in his last five games, a slump that has spotlighted the pockmarks on a once stunning freshman campaign.
Most glaring remains shot selection, something that was apparent even during his eight straight double-digit scoring games. It’s just that when contested 25-footers find net, forgiveness comes easy.
Lately, those tough jumpers have been clanking more often than not. His 1-of-6 showing during UCLA’s 92-74 win over Colorado even prompted Spencer Dinwiddie, the Buffs’ injured star, to chime in from his bed during the game:
Lavine shoots god awful shots
— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) February 14, 2014
Asked if LaVine’s drought was of any concern, head coach Steve Alford said no. Continue reading
With just over a minute left on the game clock, Pauley Pavilion let out a collective gasp — one mixed in equal parts disappointment and disbelief.
No, it’s not the game that was in question. UCLA already led by double digits, and was comfortably on its way to a 92-74 win over Colorado on Thursday night.
It’s just that the home crowd had grown so accustomed to long bombs finding nothing but net. And by the time David Wear’s 3-point attempt spun out in a game long decided, those 8,431 had perhaps only hazy memories of what misses looked like.
Late is better than never. After an underwhelming start to its rematch against Colorado — 10 assists to seven turnovers through the first 20 minutes — UCLA (19-5, 8-3) found its groove and cruised to its fourth straight home victory.
The Bruins shot 8-of-12 from beyond the arc in the second half, and 20-of-32 overall. On the night, they finished 11-of-22 from long range. Continue reading
Colorado (18-6, 7-4) at UCLA (18-5, 7-3)
When: Thursday, 6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Bill Walton)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
No. 1: Norman Powell vs. Askia Booker. Last time these two met, UCLA’s junior guard had 19 points to his counterpart’s game-high 21. Powell is a strong man-to-man defender, so it’s Booker — two inches shorter, 45 pounds lighter — that will likely be at a disadvantage. The Colorado guard picked up four fouls when the Bruins visited Boulder, mostly due to Powell’s skill at driving down the lane.
The two have since blossomed into increasingly important roles for their respective teams. With star guard Spencer Dinwiddie sidelined, Booker is a main reason that the Buffs have won three straight. In his past six games, he is averaging 5.67 assists.
No. 2: The 3-point line. Colorado allows 37.1 percent of opposing shots to come from beyond the arc, which is the worst mark of anyone in the conference besides UCLA (42.2). Continue reading
As a sophomore, Norman Powell mulled a transfer before then-head coach Ben Howland was fired. Looking back, can you blame him?
The 6-foot-4 guard ranked seventh among UCLA players in offensive rating in 2012-13, and 62nd in the conference. He last touched the ball on 14.5 percent of the team’s possessions, behind even little-used big man Tony Parker.
This year, Powell is the 12th-most efficient offensive player in the conference, four spots behind leading Bruin scorer Jordan Adams. The main difference has been taking more shots closer to the basket, but just how much his shot preference has changed is astounding.
Over three seasons, here are his percentage of shots taken at the rim, his field goal percentage on those shots, and how many of those shots are assisted:
|% shots at rim||FG% at rim||% assisted at rim|
Statistics from hoop-math.com
Why the dramatic uptick? Continue reading
Norman Powell scored a season-high 21 points in UCLA’s 83-73 win at USC last night, 10 of which came in the first 7:08 of the second half as part of his team’s 27-6 run.
It’s not the first time the junior has played the spark plug role this season. In a 70-68 win at Oregon, he scored eight of UCLA’s first 10 points of the second half. In a 69-56 win at Colorado, he scored 19 and forced Buffs guard Askia Booker into early foul trouble.
What made his latest outing a bit different was the return of his shooting stroke. He entered the game shooting 18.4 percent from beyond the arc, but made 2-of-4 against the Trojans. It was the second time this season that he drained multiple 3-pointers.
His eight field goals on Saturday were also a single-game record for a UCLA player in the Galen Center, which was built before the 2006-07 season.
Powell’s improved play has come with increased playing time — though why that uptick hadn’t come earlier is still a pertinent question. The guard has played at least 30 minutes in three of his past four games. He had only cleared that mark in two other games: the first two of the season, against Drexel and Oakland. Continue reading