Scouting report: No. 23 UCLA
Game info: 11 a.m. Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena (10, 000 capacity).
TV: CBA (Brian Anderson and Doug Gotlieb).
Radio: KJR 950 AM and 102.9 FM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Coach: Ben Howland is 230-105 (.685) in his 10th season with the Bruins and 398-204 (.660) in 18 years a Division I head coach. He’s guided UCLA to six NCAA tournament appearances and three Final Fours. Prior to joining the Bruins in 2003, he spent four seasons (1999-2003) at Pittsburgh where he had an 89-40 (.690) record. He also made two trips to the NCAA tourney and a pair of Sweet 16 appearances with the Panthers. Howland coached five seasons (1994-99) at Northern Arizona where he was 79-59 (.572) and made one NCAA tourney appearance.
Prediction: Picked to finish second in a preseason poll in the Pac-12 by media who cover the conference.
Series: UCLA leads 90-42 in a series that began Dec. 30, 1936. The Huskies are 7-60 in Pauley Pavilion. UW coach Lorenzo Romar, a former Bruins assistant from 1993-96, is 2-8 against UCLA in Los Angeles and 11-10 all-time. Howland is 7-12 against the Huskies.
Last meeting: UCLA won 59-57 on a buzzer-beating, mid-range jumper from Larry Drew II (video above) on Feb. 7 at new Pauley Pavilion. Before Drew’s game-winning shot, C.J. Wilcox (15 points) tied the score with a nifty drive and short jumper. However, he left 10 seconds on the clock. It was enough time for Drew. He used a screen to get free from Abdul Gaddy (13 points and eight assists), darted away from Aziz N’Diaye (11 points and 18 rebounds) and found enough space to launch a shot over forward Shawn Kemp Jr. (10 points).
Previous game: UCLA lost 73-61 at Washington State on Wednesday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— In their first meeting, Washington played tight defense against Shabazz Muhammad (near right) thanks to senior guard Scott Suggs (far right).
However, the UCLA freshman scored a game-high 22 points on 8-for-23 shooting. He was 1 of 2 on three-pointers and 5 of 6 at the free throw line. He was the only UCLA player who scored more than 10 points. Muhammad also collected eight rebounds and two steals in 34 minutes.
The 6-6, 225-pound guard is considered a top three NBA draft prospect according to Draft Express while NBAdraft.net while believes he’ll be taken fifth overall. He’s a versatile lefty scorer who compares favorably to NBA All-Star James Harden.
Given the hype and fanfare surrounding the UCLA star, it’s no wonder Howland prematurely said Muhammad will declare for the draft after the season. Muhammad said he hasn’t made a decision on whether he’ll turn pro or return to school. Howland later apologized and backpedaled from his comments.
Still by all accounts, Muhammad is bound for the NBA next season.
He leads the Bruins with 18.1 points per game, which is the second-highest scoring average among
all Pac-12 players. There’s a chance he could overtake California’s Allen Crabbe (18.6 points per game) for the regular-season scoring title. If Muhammad scores 33 points today, he would finish the regular season with an 18.7 scoring average.
Muhammad is a dynamic scorer and UCLA is 11-1 when he scores at least 20 points. However, he’s a marginal defensive player, adequate rebounder, who averages 5.0 boards, and not much of a playmaker. He’s failed to register an assists in 11 games and averages 0.9.
Muahammad has thrived despite constant scrutiny and setbacks. He missed the first three games while the NCAA conducted a months long investigation to review possible recruiting violations. Once cleared and eligible to play, he admitted he was out of shape and over weight, which contributed to UCLA’s 2-3 record in the first games with their star player.
UCLA won the next 10 games thanks in large part to Muhammad who averaged 19.6 points during the span. He back-to-back 27-point outings and tallied at least 20 points six times.
Then came Gucci-gate and a nasty bout with the flu, injuries to his ankle, shoulder and groin and finally pink eye.
“This kid has had just about everything happen to you happen,” Howland said. “He keeps on ticking.”
— Jordan Adams was the least heralded of the touted Fab Four class, but he made the biggest impact early on. With Muhammad out, he scored 21, 26 and 25 points. During Muhammad’s debut, Adams nearly stole the show while scoring 22 points in a loss to Georgetown. He’s the first UCLA player to begin his college career with four consecutive 20-point outings. He also scored at least 20 points in three straight games in February. Adams averages 15.1 points, which is eighth in the Pac-12.
— Nicknamed “Slo-Mo,” freshman Kyle Anderson plays at a deliberate pace that’s deceptive and difficult to defend. He’s not overly athletic or quick, but he’s long and crafty. At 6-9, he’s an extremely polished playmaker and passer who averages 3.6 assists. On most teams he would be the primary ball handler, but UCLA needs him to play in the post and he’s responded by leading the team with a 9.0 rebounding average. He also averages 10.1 points. Anderson has 53 steals, which ranks fifth in the Pac-12 and he’s logged eight double-doubles. He’s also considered a NBA prospect who could bolt after one season with the Bruins.
— UCLA’s trio of freshmen starters get the publicity, but Drew just might be the most important player on the team. He’s received recognition as a Pac-12 MVP candidate from analysts Bill Walton and Jay Bilas. Drew leads the conference and is tied for third nationally with a 7.8 assists average. It’s an astonishing feat. He’s logged at least eight assists in 18 of 30 games and has committed two or fewer turnovers in 19 contests. Although recently, he’s began to get reckless with his ball handling. Since the UW meeting, he’s averaging 4.4 in the past seven games. Drew is the only Bruin to start every game this season. He played his first three seasons at North Carolina before transferring and sitting out last season.
— UCLA can secure a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title with a win. The Bruins would be the No. 1 seed in next week’s conference tournament with a win and an Oregon loss today.
— The Bruins have lost the last eight games at Alaska Airlines Arena. Their last win was Feb. 7, 2004. Howland is 1-8 against Washington in Seattle.
— UCLA is 7-5 on the road this season, including a 5-3 mark in Pac-12 games.
— UCLA leads the Pac-12 with a 75.5 scoring average that ranks 23rd nationally.
— Junior forward David Wear has averaged 8.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in the past four games while stepping in for his twin brother Travis, who is dealing with a right foot sprain. Travis missed two games two weeks ago. He’s played in the past two games, but didn’t tally more than 17 minutes or six points in either contest.
— UCLA uses primarily an eight-man rotation, including sophomore guard Normal Powell and freshman center Tony Parker.
— Many believed Howland began the season on the hot seat after failing to qualify for the postseason last season for the second time in three years. He came under fire after a Sports Illustrated story portrayed a team that was seemingly lacking discipline. The recent defections of Joshua Smith, who transferred to UCLA, and Tyler Lamb, who left for Long Beach State, added to the belief of the dysfunction at UCLA.
— The lineup (below) has started four games, including the last outing, and has posted a 2-2 record.
C – David Wear, 6-10, 230, Jr., 7.2 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 57.7 FT%
F – Kyle Anderson, 6-9, 235, Fr., 10.1, 9.0, 3.6 apg.
G – Shabazz Muhammad, 6-6, 225, Fr., 18.1, 5.0, 0.9 apg.
G – Jordan Adams, 6-5, 187, Fr., 15.1, 3.8, 2.1 spg.
G – Larry Drew III, 6-2, 180, Sr., 7.3, 2.6, 7.8 apg.