– 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 →
Oregon State (15-12, 7-8) at UCLA (21-7, 10-5)
When: Sunday, 6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion TV: FOX Sports 1 (Rob Stone, Jarron Collins) Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
No. 1: Will Zach LaVine handle the ball more? Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are returning after their one-game suspensions on Thursday, so LaVine won’t get anywhere close to the 17 shots he took in the double-overtime loss to Oregon.
But it’s about more than just his point total. His father, Paul, has been long insistent that the 6-foot-4 freshman is a point guard. LaVine’s brief stint there against the Ducks didn’t disprove that argument. Late in regulation, Bryce Alford and LaVine swapped roles in the backcourt, with the latter taking the reins of the offense.
Alford has been serviceable as a backup point, but he could be even more effective as a two guard — where he can move off the ball and get better looks. The two 3-pointers he hit during the last 33 seconds of the second half were both assisted by LaVine. More importantly, though, is that giving the ball makes LaVine much more comfortable and better utilize his athleticism. 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:
Another trip, another split. For the second time in conference play, UCLA squandered a chance to claw up the standings by dropping the tail end of a road series.
The Bruins fell 71-67 at Oregon State, and t here were few excuses available this time. The loss at Utah last month — one that followed a win at then-No. 21 Colorado — came with an additional flight from Denver to Salt Lake City; Corvallis is less than an hour’s drive from Eugene. The Utes’ Huntsman Center is among the rowdiest venues in the conference; Gill Coliseum draws an average of 3,897, the second-worst showing in the Pac-12.
And to top it all off, coach Steve Alford had an extra day to prepare heading into an 11:30 a.m. Sunday tipoff.
Just about everything that could have gone wrong did. After holding the Beavers to 35.3 percent shooting through the bulk of the first half, UCLA’s zone defense began to crack. Continue reading →
After a mini-slump doused the fiery start to his UCLA career, freshman guard Zach LaVine shot back with a vengeance on Sunday night, keying the Bruins to a 87-72 win over Arizona State.
There were the customary dunks, including a vicious windmill that had all of Pauley Pavilion holding his breath as he hung in the air. There was the 3-point range, rediscovered as he drilled his first three attempts. Continue reading →
Freshman guard Zach LaVine hung out with me and staff photographer Hans Gutknecht for a bit this week and showed off a few dunks. Here’s the story that ran in today’s Daily News, on the most exciting draw at Pauley Pavilion this season.
– UCLA’s 89-76 win was solid given that UCSB shot lights out early and looked like a team that could earn a March Madness berth. The key was a 27-of-36 showing at the free throw line, the first time the Bruins shot more than 30 in a game this season.
They are 8-0 for the first time since 2006-07.
– Freshman Zach LaVine led the team with 13 points at halftime, showing off his range with a number of deep threes. He still needs to improve his shot selection, but doesn’t seem fazed by a hand in his face or rushing defenders. I write more about him here. Continue reading →
UCLA maintained its perfect record with a 95-79 win over Northwestern Friday night, closing out the Las Vegas Invitational.
Sophomore Kyle Anderson was named tournament MVP and nearly had his second career triple-double. The point guard finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, four steals and a block. He also made both his 3-point attempts, chipping in to the Bruins’ absurd 13-of-16 rate from downtown. Continue reading →
UCLA had a chance to work on its dunking skills, and Norman Powell had five of UCLA’s 10 slams in this 106-65 win over Chattanooga.
Powell’s windmill dunk was the highlight of the evening as were the 106 points. UCLA hadn’t scored more than 100 points in a non-exhibition game in five years. And that’s because defensive-minded Ben Howland was coach.
This was a new kind of UCLA look to be sure. Kyle Anderson nearly had another triple double with 17 points 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Jordan Adams scored a team-high 22 points, and Tony Parker had a career-best 14 rebounds.
The Bruins are 5-0 for the first time since the 2007-08 season, when they won their first seven games.
UCLA opened the season with a narrow 72-67 win over Drexel, sprinkling some good moments of transition offense in with uneven defense. Coach Steve Alford was generally positive afterward, and maintained that the problems he saw were very fixable.
“You either win that opener or you lose that opener,” he said, “and winning the opener feels a lot better than losing.”